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Legislative and Regulatory Updates

Proposed Medicare Payment Rule Cuts Will Be Devastating to Surgeons and Patients: CNN Publishes Op-Ed from ACS Executive Director David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS

CNN Business has published a recent editorial, Proposed cuts to Medicare will be devastating to surgeons and their patients, by David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS, Executive Director of the American College of Surgeons. In the commentary, Dr. Hoyt explains under the proposed rule on the 2021 calendar year Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would cut payments for physicians who see Medicare patients beginning January 1, 2021. Examples are as follows: 9 percent for cardiac surgery, 8 percent for thoracic surgery and 7 percent for vascular surgery.

Under current law, any CMS changes must be budget neutral, so the cuts are required to increase spending in other health care services, such as telehealth. “But telehealth is no replacement for surgical care, and the health care system simply cannot absorb cuts of this magnitude right now,” Dr. Hoyt notes, adding that Congress likely will need to intervene to prevent these “devastating cuts from taking effect.”

Dr. Hoyt adds that COVID-19 has resulted in months-long bans on nonemergency but medically necessary operations that have led to worsening patient outcomes. Furthermore, one in three private surgical practices are at risk of closing permanently because of the financial impact of COVID-19, according to a recent nationwide survey. These additional Medicare cuts will force more surgeons to close their practices, reducing patient access to timely, quality care.

Reminder: ACS Telehealth Webinar Is Thursday—Register Today!

Register today for an important webinar on telehealth hosted by the American College of Surgeons Division of Advocacy and Health Policy. The webinar will take place 8:00−9:00 pm Eastern Time Thursday, August 27.

A key focus of the program will be the series of waivers the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued temporarily lifting certain constraints on coverage for telehealth and other virtual services during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Two surgeons—Stephen M. Sentovich, MD, MBA, FACS, clinical professor of surgery and physician lead, clinical operations, City of Hope, Duarte, CA; and Catherine A. Matthews, MD, FACS, FACOG, professor of urology and gynecology, Wake Forest Baptist Health, Winston-Salem, NC—will describe how they successfully integrated virtual care platforms into their workflows during the PHE. Attendees will benefit from insights shared by Drs. Sentovich and Matthews about early lessons from operationalizing telehealth since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and key considerations for implementing virtual services in surgical practice now and in the future.

Telehealth and Surgery during the Pandemic: Lessons Learned and Guidance for the Future

Thursday, August 27 | 8:00–9:00 pm (ET)


Contact Lauren Foe, Senior Associate for Regulatory Affairs, at with questions.