Planned cuts to Medicare payments threaten private practice, surgical groups say

Looming cuts to Medicare reimbursement could be the final straw for private practice surgeons already in financial straits, according to the Surgical Care Coalition, a group of 12 industry organizations opposing the planned cuts.

CMS' planned reduced payments for surgical care are set to take effect in January 2021. The Surgical Care Coalition is asking Congress to waive Medicare's budget-neutrality requirements to prevent the cuts, saying private practices may close as a result.

One-third of private practice surgeons already fear they'll have to shut down, according to a survey of more than 5,000 surgeons commissioned by the Surgical Care Coalition. Nearly half of respondents are cutting their own pay or employee pay as revenues decline due to the pandemic.

Reimbursement cuts would put those groups in even more distress, the coalition said, and ultimately limit access to care for older Americans.

The coalition's founding members include the American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, American College of Surgeons, American Society for Surgery of the Hand, American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, and the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons.

"These cuts presented a difficult future for surgical patients, even before COVID-19 hit. If they go into effect while the country is dealing with the consequences of the pandemic, American patients will pay an even greater, devastating cost," ACS Executive Director David Hoyt, MD, said in a press release.


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