• Stop the Cuts: Join the Effort to Protect Our Patients, Payments


    Surgeons are raising the alarm about forthcoming payment cuts and how this will affect patients. A coalition the Academy helped found in 2020 is ramping up efforts this week to protect physician payments and highlight surgeons’ role in health care. Unless Congress acts this year, surgeons could face significant cuts in 2022.

    The Surgical Care Coalition’s effort includes a public education component to help policymakers understand the difference surgeons are making. We are calling on ophthalmologists to join our efforts by sharing a story about how you have helped one of your patients and what is at stake if these harmful cuts take effect.

    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) proposed 2022 Physician Fee Schedule is expected to be released in July. Surgical care could face as much as 10% in payment cuts that would harm patients and our ability to provide quality care.

    Although the Academy, as part of our work with the Surgical Care Coalition, successfully spared you a cut of roughly 6% in Medicare payments for this year, it was a short-term fix. Congress only delayed the cuts for one year. It didn’t fix the underlying problems in the fee schedule that threaten physician payments.  

    Our 2021 Approach

    The Academy Board recently approved a $300,000 grant to the coalition. “To prevent the drastic cuts proposed for 2022, we need to work with our Congressional [allies] to reverse the failure of CMS to apply the increased payment for evaluation and management to post-operative visits in the global period and to prevent cuts related to the 2021 pandemic relief,” said George A. Williams, MD, Academy senior secretary for advocacy. “Our leadership in the (Surgical Care Coalition) is critical to our success.”

    An analysis by David B. Glasser, MD, Academy secretary for federal affairs, showed the Academy’s prior $300,000 investment in the coalition returned over $360 million to Academy members. 

    “That’s a pretty good [return on investment],” Dr. Williams said.

    But we can’t work toward a permanent solution alone. Several other major surgical societies have also joined the effort, and we are optimistic more will come on board this year.

    Your involvement is also vital to the coalition’s success.

    Surgeons: Share Your Story

    The coalition needs your testimony, support, and advocacy to make our voices heard in the halls of Congress to stop these cuts. We encourage you to lend your voice to demonstrate the value of surgical care across the country.

    If you have a story to share about how you have helped your patients, contact the Academy’s Washington, D.C., office at politicalaffairs@aao.org.

    Over the coming weeks, we’ll keep you informed of our work with the Surgical Care Coalition. If you would like updates directly from the coalition, sign up for the newsletter.