New coalition launched to stop Medicare cuts that hurt patients and limit timely access to surgical care
The American Academy of Ophthalmology today reinforced its commitment to protecting patients, improving their quality of life, and ensuring access to and choice of surgical care by announcing it joined the Surgical Care Coalition as a founding member. As part of this group, the Academy will support the coalition’s effort to work with Congress to stop planned cuts to Medicare payments that would hurt patients.
The Academy strongly opposes these cuts, planned by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), that will reduce payments for surgical care and take effect in January 2021. These cuts could force surgeons to take fewer Medicare patients, which would lead to reduced access to care for older Americans and lower their quality of life.
With the other 11 founding members in the coalition, the Academy wants Congress to waive Medicare’s budget neutrality requirements to prevent the cuts and require CMS to apply the increased evaluation and management (E/M) adjustment to 10- and 90-day and maternity global code values. This will ensure Medicare patients continue to have the best access—to the best care—when they need it and where they need it.
The Surgical Care Coalition commissioned a survey of more than 5,000 surgeons, which found that surgeons are facing serious financial distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the cuts were announced before the pandemic, with the combined impact of the planned CMS cuts and the financial distress due to COVID-19, surgeons and hospitals will face difficult decisions to keep surgical practices afloat.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, a survey of our members showed that ophthalmic services decreased nearly 80 percent as ophthalmologists voluntarily ceased all but urgent care to help reduce the risk of virus transmission and use of personal protective equipment,” said Academy CEO, David W. Parke II, MD. “As we cautiously begin reopening ophthalmology care and serving the growing healthcare needs of patients who deferred needed care, we must now reduce the number of patients we see each day to ensure we provide care with enhanced safety procedures. Further reducing payments, as is currently scheduled, will make some practices unsustainable, which in turn further endangers patients’ access to needed care. Congress needs to step in and ensure Medicare patients continue to have the best access to care when they need it.”