'CMS is missing a golden opportunity': What we heard this week

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Healthcare providers spoke with Becker's on a number of topics this week, including robotic surgery, CMS reimbursements and the value of ASCs.

What we heard this week:

Administrators want equal reimbursement for ASCs and HOPDs
Andrew Lovewell, administrator of Surgical Center at Columbia (Mo.) Orthopaedic Group: ASCs should be paid the same as HOPDs under the market basket, especially considering the services we provide are very similar and the costs are no different. CMS needs to pay more attention to ASCs and shoring up the reimbursement gap between HOPDs and ASCs in the future to assure that ASCs are fairly reimbursed.

Will robots replace orthopedic surgeons?
Ravi Bashyal, MD. Director of outpatient hip and knee replacement surgery at NorthShore University HealthSystem (Chicago): [Robotic surgery] takes people and it enhances their skills and ability. I think that if we use it in a non-substitutive manner — meaning we're not using robotics or computers to take the place of our thought process or to make us do less work — we're using them as enablers. That's going to really help us take better care of our patients and have better outcomes, which at the end of the day is what's most important for all of us.

What ASCs offer physicians that hospitals don't
Barry Dison, administrator of Advanced Surgical Care of Baton Rouge (La.): As we all know, time is money, and that physician can go see patients at their clinic, do more surgeries or make it on time to their child's event. Besides the improvement in their time and lifestyle, surgeons at an ASC will enjoy consistency and familiarity with our process and staff. We have very low turnover in the industry, and most ASCs are small enough that the administrator is readily available to address any issues on the spot, without the need to go through the bureaucracy of a hospital setting. Staff consistency leads to better outcomes and patient safety as well. Finally, there is the financial incentive to join an ASC because the physician owner is able to participate in distributions during successful periods of the year.

'Can CMS be more confusing right now?' ASC administrators balk at outpatient final rule
Catherine Retzbach, RN. Administrator of Memorial Ambulatory Surgery Center (Mount Holly, N.J.): CMS continues to be shortsighted regarding ASCs. It has been proven many times that ASCs save CMS financially and continue to provide good quality, safe patient care. Taking away procedures that have been done safely in the centers does not make sense. The government continues to look for ways to save money, however, they continue to ignore a proven opportunity. The next time CMS allows new codes to be performed in an ASC, some centers will be reluctant to invest in the procedures that they need new equipment for, for fear this will happen again. There is truly a need for an ASC voice on the committees making these decisions. The Ambulatory Surgery Center Association can do only so much when there is no direct voice at the table. CMS is missing a golden opportunity to allow high quality, low-cost, safely performed cases in an ASC.

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