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

Bulletin Advocacy Brief: December 3

Congressional Action on Medicare Physician Payment Cuts Following the Release of CMS's Final Rule

On December 1, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released the Calendar Year 2021 Physician Fee Schedule final rule. For more information on American College of Surgeons' (ACS') position on the final rule, please read the press release.

With limited legislative days remaining in the 116th Congress, time is running out to pass legislation preventing the upcoming Medicare payment cuts. Recognizing the need for urgent action, Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Steven Daines (R-MT), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and John Boozman (R-AR) led a bipartisan sign-on letter to Senate Leadership in support of addressing the proposed physician payment cuts in legislative negotiations. With the government currently funded through December 11, Congress will need to pass legislation to prevent a government shutdown. The government funding bill is likely to be one of the only moving legislative vehicles before the end of the year. If Congress acts to prevent the cuts before January 1, the legislative fix will need to be included in such must-pass legislation.

On December 3, 2020, Chapters of the American College of Surgeons sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) requesting that Congress include a solution to prevent drastic Medicare payment cuts in any must-pass legislation before the end of the year. Additionally, the letter urges the passage of the Holding Providers Harmless From Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020, H.R. 8702.

Support for the Holding Providers Harmless From Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020, H.R. 8702, continues to grow in the U.S. House of Representatives. Building support for this legislation will be critical to ensuring Congressional action on it.

For more information on legislation related to the Medicare payment cuts, please contact Carrie Zlatos, ACS Senior Congressional Lobbyist, at czlatos@facs.org

SurgeonsVoice Continues to Urge Congress to Act Now to Stop Payment Cuts

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Calendar Year (CY) 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) final rule was issued on December 1, and the ACS Division of Advocacy and Health Policy (DAHP) continues to urge Congress to ACT NOW to stop devastating Medicare payment cuts and preserve patient access to care. With the 116th Congress preparing to adjourn, this is a priority that must be addressed now. We need all hands on deck to urge lawmakers to help stop the cuts.

ACT NOW: Contact Your Representative

Please visit SurgeonsVoice to take action and urge your Representative to cosponsor H.R. 8702.

ACT NOW: Contact Your Senators

Make your voice heard in the Senate by visiting SurgeonsVoice and urge your Senators to introduce legislation to prevent the cuts.

Congress Returns for Lame Duck Session

The U.S. Congress has only few legislative days to tackle a growing list of priorities, chief among them preventing a government shutdown when funding runs out on December 11. Before recessing for the Thanksgiving holiday, Chairs of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations agreed to a top-line $1.4 trillion in spending allocations that would avert a shutdown; however, the details have not yet been announced. It is expected that the agreement will serve as the starting point for negotiations between House and Senate leadership toward a larger omnibus spending package that will keep the government funded into next year. In addition to advocating to include a solution to prevent E/M cuts from taking effect on January 1 in the omnibus, the ACS recently signed a letter to House and Senate leadership urging Congress to extend the Medicare sequester moratorium through the end of the COVID-19 PHE. It remains unclear what, if any, other priorities, such as COVID-19 stimulus will be included in the final package.

For more information on budget/appropriations, please contact Amelia Suermann, ACS Congressional Lobbyist, at asuermann@facs.org.

Senate Leaders Advocate for MISSION ZERO

As conversations around an end of year funding package continue between the House and the Senate, Senate trauma leaders penned a letter to Senate Appropriators on the Mission Zero grant program. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Bill Cassidy, MD's (R-LA) letter outlines the importance of this program to insure trauma readiness by integrating military trauma providers into civilian trauma centers. The letter also asks lead appropriators to include $11.5 million in funding for this grant program in the final funding package set to pass later this month. ACS thanks Senator Van Hollen and Senator Cassidy for their leadership on this important issue and fully supports full funding for this vital trauma program.

Negotiations for a final funding package between the House and Senate are ongoing. Please contact your Representative and Senators and urge them to include the $11.5 million in funding for the Mission Zero grant program.

Find a prewritten letter to your Representatives at SurgeonsVoice.

Learn more about MISSION ZERO. For more information on this effort, contact Hannah Chargin, American College of Surgeons Congressional Lobbyist, at hchargin@facs.org.

ACS Supports Non-Opioid Alternatives Legislation

Recently, ACS issued support for H.R. 5172/ S. 3067, the Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction in the Nation (NO PAIN) Act. This legislation, introduced by Representatives Terri Sewell (D-AL) and David McKinley P.E. (R-WV) and Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Doug Jones (D-AL), will incentivize the use of non-opioid alternatives and local infusion techniques used prior to and during operative procedures.

There is strong support for the increased use of opioid alternatives, but the lack of financial coverage inhibits routine use. This legislation removes the financial barrier by raising the payment for non-opioid pain treatments. This bill also includes a study on the limitations, gaps and barriers to access or deficits in Medicare coverage or reimbursement for other therapies and approaches to opioids found in the Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force Report.

ACS thanks Congressional leaders for their continued efforts on this issue and fully supports the NO PAIN ACT.

Read the ACS letters of support to the Senate and House. For more information on this effort, contact Hannah Chargin, Congressional Lobbyist, at hchargin@facs.org.