• American Academy of Ophthalmology Joins Surgical Care Coalition

    New coalition launched to stop Medicare cuts that hurt patients and limit timely access to surgical care

    SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – 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.”

    About the American Academy of Ophthalmology

    The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. A global community of 32,000 medical doctors, we protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public. We innovate to advance our profession and to ensure the delivery of the highest-quality eye care. Our EyeSmart® program provides the public with the most trusted information about eye health. For more information, visit aao.org.

    About the Surgical Care Coalition

    The Surgical Care Coalition advocates for access to quality surgical care for all Americans. The Surgical Care Coalition is comprised of 12 surgical professional associations that proudly represent more than 150,000 surgeons working across the country with a common goal of improving the quality of care, and quality of life, for all patients. The founding members have met and informally worked together for nearly three decades to promote sound policy solutions to the U.S. Congress and federal regulatory agencies to solve the biggest challenges in health care.

    Founding members of the Surgical Care Coalition:

    American Academy of Ophthalmology

    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

    American Society of Plastic Surgeons

    Congress of Neurological Surgeons

    Society for Vascular Surgery

    Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons

    The American Society of Breast Surgeons

    The Society of Thoracic Surgeons