American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Bulletin Advocacy Brief: January 28

Congress Invests In Physician Training

As part of its ongoing collaboration with the GME Advocacy Coalition, the American College of Surgeons joined the Association of American Medical Colleges and dozens of physician and health care organizations to thank Congress for investing in physician training by adding 1,000 new Medicare-supported GME positions in the year-end 2020 appropriations bill.

Federal support for GME has been frozen since 1997, and while the nation's teaching hospitals continue to invest their own resources to train physicians over the cap, these new slots will alleviate some of the pressure they have been facing and allow them to increase training. These new slots are critical to helping ensure a strong physician workforce that has been unduly affected by the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Read the Coalition Letter. Increased funding and support for GME has been a long-time advocacy priority for the ACS, and we will continue to work with the Coalition to ensure a robust physician workforce.

For more information about GME or workforce issues, contact Amelia Suermann, ACS Congressional Lobbyist, at asuermann@facs.org.

Legislation That Would Prevent Sequestration Payment Cuts Introduced in the House

On January 13, U.S. Representatives David McKinley (R-WV) and Brad Schneider (D-IL) introduced the Medicare Sequester COVID Moratorium Act (H.R. 315), which would extend the delay of sequestration-related payment cuts through the end of the declared COVID-19 PHE.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 requires mandatory across-the-board reductions in federal spending, also known as sequestration. When applied to Medicare, the sequester reduces payments to physicians by 2 percent. In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, Congress on May 1, 2020, passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and suspended the sequestration cuts through the end of 2020. As part of the spending packaged passed in December 2020, Congress again delayed the scheduled payment cuts to all Medicare provider reimbursement until March 31, 2021.

The ACS is continuing to work as part of a broad coalition to ensure inclusion of H.R. 315 in must-pass legislation. For more information about sequestration, contact Amelia Suermann, ACS Congressional Lobbyist, at asuermann@facs.org.

ICYMI: End-of-Year Funding Bill Packed with ACS Legislative Victories

by Amelia Suermann, Carrie Zlatos, and Hannah Chargin

In a whirlwind finish, Congress passed a last-minute funding and COVID-19 relief package December 21, 2020. The bill, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (H.R. 133), was signed into law by President Trump December 27, 2020. The $1.4 trillion spending package funds the federal government through the fiscal year 2021 and includes $900 billion in stimulus funds and relief policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to significant efforts by ACS Fellows through grassroots and coalition lobbying efforts led by the ACS Department of Advocacy and Health Policy team, several ACS-supported provisions were included in this package, ranging in scope from physician payment, including stopping the planned Medicare physician cuts for 2021, cancer issues, workforce and rural health, and health IT, among other achievements.

Read the detailed wrap up.