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

Bulletin Advocacy Brief: September 9

ACS Chapters Call on Congressional Leadership to Prevent Cuts to Medicare Physician Payment

On September 8, all 65 of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) domestic chapters sent a letter to congressional leadership urging legislative intervention to prevent significant cuts to Medicare physician payment for surgical services beginning January 1, 2022. The letter, addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Leaders Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), thanked Congress for its efforts last year to delay Medicare payment cuts and to provide surgeons and other health care professionals some relief during a time of significant instability, and advocated for lawmakers to support timely legislative efforts to stop the cuts.

To learn more and encourage your elected officials to act now to stop cuts to Medicare payment and protect patient access to care, visit SurgeonsVoice. For questions, contact ahp@facs.org.

Key Members of Congress Lead Letter to Stop Medicare Payment Cuts; Grassroots Action Needed

Representatives Ami Bera, MD (D-CA), and Larry Bucshon, MD (R-IN), are leading a sign-on letter to leadership urging congressional action on impending Medicare payment cuts before the end of the year. The letter, which is addressed to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), highlights growing financial uncertainty within the Medicare payment system and the need for systemic reforms to the payment system to speed the transition to value-based care. Additionally, it urges Congress to provide stability to health care professionals by averting imminent payment cuts, including extending the expiring 3.75 percent payment adjustment provided by Congress last year.

Last year, record-breaking grassroots participation from surgeons nationwide played a key role in delaying the proposed cuts to Medicare physician payment. It is once again imperative to activate our strong grassroots network to show support in numbers for this timely issue by encouraging members of the U.S. House of Representatives to endorse Drs. Bera and Bucshon's bipartisan efforts.

Act now with SurgeonsVoice! Urge your representative to sign the Bera-Bucshon letter to House leadership with SurgeonsVoice's pre-drafted, editable letters to Congress.

For more information, contact ACS DAHP staff at ahp@facs.org.

Legislation to Address General Surgery Shortages Introduced in U.S. Senate

U.S. Representatives Ami Bera, MD (D-CA), Larry Bucshon, MD (R-IN), Scott Peters (D-CA), and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) reintroduced the Ensuring Access to General Surgery Act (H.R. 5149) on September 3. The bill would direct the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), via the Health Resources Services Administration, to study and define general surgery workforce shortage areas and collect data on the adequacy of access to surgical services. Additionally, the legislation would grant the Secretary of HHS the authority to designate general surgery shortage areas. Determining where patients lack access to surgical services and designating a formal surgical shortage area will provide HHS with a valuable new tool for increasing access to the full spectrum of high-quality health care services. A companion bill (S. 1593) was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and John Barrasso, MD (R-WY) in May.

The ACS wrote a letter of support for the legislation to the House of Representatives, which is available to read online. For more information on surgical workforce issues, contact Amelia Suermann, ACS Senior Congressional Lobbyist at asuermann@facs.org.

Applications for 2022 ACS Chapter Advocacy Grant Program Now Available

The ACS Division of Advocacy and Health Policy has made available applications for the 2022 ACS Chapter Advocacy Grant Program to support ACS Chapters with implementing state legislative activities for 2022.

The ACS Chapter Advocacy Grant Program provides an annual cash grant with a required fifty percent chapter match to engage in advocacy to support the chapter's state legislative goals. Additionally, the grant includes ACS State Affairs staff support. The grant application is available at on the ACS website.

The ACS Chapter Advocacy Grant is available on a rolling application basis. Chapters are encouraged to apply for a grant once they have set their 2022 state advocacy goals. Information on how to engage in state advocacy, state legislative toolkits, and the ACS State Legislative Priorities can be found on the ACS website.

For additional information contact Christopher Johnson, ACS Manager for State Affairs, at cjohnson@facs.org.

ACS-Led STOP THE BLEED® Legislation in California Falls Just Short

ACS California led legislation, S.B. 687, to require the installation of bleeding control kits in buildings and public places fell just short of receiving a vote by the full Assembly when the Assembly Appropriations Committee held the bill on the final day before the deadline to get bills out of committee.

"Even though we didn't get the bill across the finish line this year, it was a great win to get the bill as far as we did in a year when so few bills are being passed," said Amy Liepert, MD, FACS, a member of the ACS Health Policy and Advocacy Group based in California. "We've learned a lot from this session and gained many allies to build a stronger coalition for next year's session."

The legislation had received unanimous support in the Senate and was passed out of two of the three Assembly committees before stalling in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The bill faced opposition from the business and property owner lobbies in the final stages of the legislative process.

For more information, contact Christopher Johnson, ACS Manager for State Affairs, at state_affairs@facs.org.