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

Legislative and Regulatory Updates

Several ACS Priorities Included in House L-HHS Appropriations Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee recently advanced its Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (L-HHS) bill, allocating funds and committing support for several ACS priorities, including the following:

  • $5 million for civilian trauma centers to train and incorporate military trauma care providers and teams into care center (the MISSION ZERO Program).
  • $50 million for firearm injury and prevention research: $25 million each to the NIH and CDC. Additionally, the Committee allocated $100 million for a new evidence-based community violence intervention initiative at the CDC.
  • $3 million to establish the National Health Care Workforce Commission, originally created by the Affordable Care Act.
  • $25 million for the Pediatric Subspecialty Loan Repayment Program.
  • $3 billion to fund Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, President Biden's new initiative aimed at speeding up breakthroughs for cancer, Alzheimer's, and diabetes.
  • Remove longstanding language that prohibited HHS from spending any money on a Unique Patient Identifier.

It is important to note that advancing this legislation is just the first step in the process of making it into law—the U.S. Senate has not yet released its appropriations bills. To be considered final, the House and Senate bills would need to pass their respective chambers and then go through a conference process. Due to the limited timing before funding for federal spending runs out on September 20, ACS staff think it is likely that a Continuing Resolution, which would likely keep programs funded at current levels, will be necessary. However, the ACS is monitoring the appropriations process and is advocating to ensure that priority programs are funded in whatever spending vehicle is passed.

For more information, contact Amelia Suermann, ACS Congressional Lobbyist, at asuermann@facs.org.

ACS Strongly Opposes Proposed Cuts to Surgical Patient Care in Proposed 2022 MPFS Rule

Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released the calendar year 2022 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) proposed rule. The cut to general surgery under the proposed rule will be -3.75 percent, but other Congressionally mandated cuts may affect the final general surgery payment change for 2022. Read more about the proposed rule in the July 15 Bulletin Advocacy Brief.

The ACS strongly opposes the cuts to surgical care contained within the proposed CMS fee schedule and urges Congress to address systemic challenges to stop the annual reductions in patient care.

"Our patients deserve a health care system that invests in surgical care. CMS is taking notable strides to improve health equity; however, this proposal would achieve the opposite by threatening patient access to critical treatments and procedures," said ACS Executive Director David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS. "The ACS stands ready to work with Congress toward a sustainable, long-term solution in the interest of all patients."

The proposed rule from CMS maintains cuts to surgical care that Congress stopped last year. The Medicare conversion factor for CY 2022 will be cut by 3.75 percent under the CMS proposed fee schedule. The conversion factor is the basic starting point for calculating Medicare payments. Updates to the conversion factor have failed to keep up with inflation. The result is that the conversion factor is only about 50 percent of what it would have been if it had been indexed to general inflation as it had been prior to 1998. The proposed CMS rule further emphasizes the need for continued intervention by Congress to protect patient care.

The ACS is a founding member of the Surgical Care Coalition, which advocates for access to quality surgical care for all Americans. The Surgical Care Coalition is comprised of 13 surgical professional associations that proudly represent the more than 150,000 surgeons working across the country with a common goal of improving the quality of care, and quality of life, for all patients.