09 Sep Surgical Care Coalition to Host Leadership Day on Capitol Hill
WASHINGTON, SEPTEMBER 9, 2022 – Looming Medicare cuts set to take effect in less than four months will jeopardize seniors’ access to critical treatments and procedures, according to the Surgical Care Coalition (SCC). Advocating for patients, SCC leaders will meet with Members of Congress and their staff on Thursday, September 15 to continue to build support to stop these cuts.
“The current Medicare payment system is unstable, unsustainable, and out of touch with the surgical needs of millions of Americans. The need for reform has never been more evident,” said John H. Calhoon, MD, President of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons. “The Surgical Care Coalition is ready to stand against CMS’s proposed policies and urges Congress to stand by the hundreds of thousands of surgeons protecting patient access to care.”
The SCC Leadership Day is intended to educate Congressional leaders and their staff on the consequences of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ proposed 4.5% cut to the Medicare conversion factor – a critical element for calculating Medicare payments. If Congress fails to stop this cut and also allows the additional 4% Medicare payment reduction due to statutory pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) requirements to take effect, surgical care faces a staggering cut of almost 8.5% in 2023. This cut would come on top of the immense challenges that surgical practices across the nation are already facing, including significant medical inflation along with staffing and supply chain shortages.
These cuts are on top of the 2% sequestration cut that was fully reinstated in July demonstrating a year-after-year disinvestment in surgical care and threatening care access for millions of seniors nationwide. This disinvestment coupled with a growing senior population puts our health care system on an even more unsustainable trajectory. By 2040, Americans aged 65 and older are expected to represent 21.6% of the total population—5 percent more than today, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The SCC says this demonstrates why it is more important than ever to have a durable Medicare payment system that protects access to care for the individuals most in need.
“The current Medicare fee schedule continues to disincentivize collaboration between physicians as they are forced to fight against each other for critical resources,” said Randall M. Clark, MD, FASA, President of American Society of Anesthesiologists. “Physicians provide essential care for patients, yet the current system requires us to divide our attention between providing that care and ensuring our practices have the resources to operate.”
“Without swift Congressional action, millions of patients will be at risk of losing timely access to critical surgical procedures,” said Charles Mabry, MD, FACS, Member of American College of Surgeons. “Leaders from the Surgical Care Coalition welcome the opportunity to share with Members of Congress the immediate threat these cuts pose to our patients and the critical need to create a sustainable Medicare payment system for the long-term.”
“These compounding cuts reflect a Medicare payment system that promotes neither quality care nor investment in high-quality patient outcomes,” said Jason M. Schwalb, MD, FAANS, Member of American Association of Neurological Surgeons/Congress of Neurological Surgeons. “Congress needs to protect America’s seniors now by stopping the cuts to surgical care while advancing the reforms needed to create a more reliable payment system moving forward.”
“The Surgical Care Coalition is ready to work with Members of Congress to show that the temporary fixes to the Medicare payment system are band-aids to structural problems,” said Margaret C. Tracci, MD, JD, FACS, Member of Society for Vascular Surgery. “Stopping this year’s cuts while introducing long-term, stabilizing solutions is a necessary step Congress must take to build a better foundation for future patient care.”
“It is vital that Congress work to update the physician payment schedule to reflect the increased cost of health care for both patients and providers,” said David Glasser, MD, Member of American Academy of Ophthalmology. “As medical inflation nears an all-time high, the combined 10.5% cut will introduce yet another challenge into an already difficult operating environment for surgical practices.”
Media interested in attending a press briefing with the SCC leaders on Wednesday, September 14, should contact [email protected].