ASPS joins Surgical Care Coalition in effort to protect patients, members
ASPS on Thursday joined 11 other professional associations that represent more than 150,000 surgeons throughout the country in the formation of the Surgical Care Coalition, a collaborative effort to protect patients, improve their quality of life and ensure timely access to surgical care.
"Being a member of the Surgical Care Coalition gives ASPS members and our Society a louder, unified voice for the advocacy of our patients," says ASPS/PSF Board Vice President of Health Policy and Advocacy Gregory Greco, DO. "The coalition galvanizes efforts across surgical specialties and is working to ensure that patients continue to have access to quality surgical care by surgeons unburdened by unfounded congressional constraints."
The group's immediate focus is working with Congress to prevent cuts planned for January 2021 to Medicare payments that will hurt patients. The cuts, which ASPS strongly opposes, will reduce payments for surgical care, which could force surgeons to see fewer Medicare patients, thereby reducing access to care for older Americans and lowering their quality of life. ASPS will also join its coalition partners in pushing for a requirement for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to apply the increased evaluation and management (E/M) adjustment to 10- and 90-day and maternity global code values.
The coalition will work to convince Congress to waive Medicare's budget neutrality requirements to prevent the cuts. This move will ensure Medicare patients continue to have access to the best care – when they need it and where they need it.
The Surgical Care Coalition surveyed more than 5,000 U.S. surgeons and found that many are facing serious financial distress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the cuts to Medicare payments were announced before the pandemic, the combined impact of the planned cuts and the financial distress due to COVID-19, surgeons and hospitals will face difficult decisions to keep surgical practices afloat. Among the survey's findings, surgeons noted that even before the planned cuts:
- One-in-three private practice surgeons are concerned they will have to shut down
- Nearly half of surgeons face more difficult financial decisions and are responding by either cutting their own pay or paying employees in the face of declining revenues.
"If these cuts go into effect while the country is dealing with the consequences of the pandemic, American patients will pay an even greater, devastating cost," American College of Surgeons Executive Director David Hoyt, MD, said in a statement. "Surgeons play a key role in America's healthcare system, which is already under strain from COVID-19. The Surgical Care Coalition is against these cuts because they will ultimately hurt the patients we care for every day."
ASPS joins the following organizations as part of the Surgical Care Coalition: American Academy of Ophtalmology; American Association of Neurological Surgeons; American College of Osteopathic Surgeons; American College of Surgeons; American Society for Surgery of the Hand; American Society of Breast Surgeons; American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons; Congress of Neurological Surgeons; Society for Vascular Surgery; Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons; and The Society of Thoracic Surgeons.