Survey: Impending Medicare Cuts to Surgeons Will Cause Delayed Care for Patients

Survey: Impending Medicare Cuts to Surgeons Will Cause Delayed Care for Patients

The consequences of both COVID-19 and Medicare cuts will have long-term health effects on patients.

WASHINGTON, November 12, 2021 – A new survey of more than 2,000 surgeons across the country found that impending Medicare cuts to surgeons could result in longer wait times for patients, and further delays in care. Due to the ongoing global health crisis, patients who have already delayed care, could further delay critical treatments and procedures, leading to more medically complex and expensive treatments, further straining the health care system.

The survey, conducted by the American College of Surgeons, a founding member of the Surgical Care Coalition, found that 57% of surgeons say the nearly 9% Medicare payment cuts to surgeons and surgical specialties as a result of the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for 2022 and federal laws to curb spending, will result in longer wait times for patients. Additionally, 56% of surgeons say that the impending cuts will result in delays to care for patients if they take effect on January 1, 2022.

“The pandemic has put tremendous strain on our health care system, not just for weeks or for months, but for more than a year, said David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS, American College of Surgeons Executive Director. “It has forced hospitals across the country who have run out of beds for patients to delay surgeries, and now, during a time when Congress should be investing in our health care system, they are implementing cuts that will further strain it, harming patients now and in the long-term.”

The delayed surgeries which are expected as a result of these cuts will give rise to more medically complex and expensive treatments. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that delaying lifesaving procedures can have permanent and devastating consequences to one’s health. Delaying even routine procedures such as hip replacements can potentially triple recovery time.

On top of the expected delays to care the survey uncovered, the survey also found that 76% of surgeons say staffing shortages caused by the pandemic have made an impact on surgical practices’ ability to provide top quality care, with 69% attributing delays in care to the staffing shortage. This new data further underscores how the proposed cuts would fall on an already overburdened health care system.

The combined consequences of both COVID-19 and the cuts will hurt patients and jeopardize their access to care.

Long-term reform and investment are needed to stabilize our health care system and ensure patients have access to the care they need when they need it.

Learn more about the coalition’s efforts to stop the cuts here, and download a fact sheet about the cuts here.

About the Surgical Care Coalition

The Surgical Care Coalition 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.