- Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) urges Congress to act now to stop deep Medicare cuts that will greatly reduce access to surgical care.

In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, surgeons across the country stopped performing elective procedures. According to a recent survey, one in three surgical practices are at risk of closing due to the financial strains created by COVID-19. The financial strain is even greater on surgeons in private practice who are trying to meet payroll and keep their doors open. Fewer surgeons means less access to lifesaving care at a time when our country is already weathering the greatest public health crisis of our time.

As health professionals, we need every resource available to meet the significant challenges that remain, especially as we work to keep our surgical practices open and available to meet the needs of our fellow Americans.

Under the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) planned physician payment cuts for surgical services, patients who rely on Medicare for their medical treatment, especially America’s seniors, may encounter issues with accessing care while jeopardizing the financial health of physicians and their practices.

Even as we see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, the midst of a pandemic is the worst time to cut Medicare reimbursements, impacting patients’ access to care.

Today, surgeons across the country are faced with a looming uncertainty whether their Medicare payments will be cut significantly, beginning in January.

Congress must act now to stop the cuts while there is still time to provide stability for these physicians, their practices, and their patients.

• Dr. J. Wayne Meredith is 20202021 president of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). He is the Richard T. Myers Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery, Chief of Clinical Chairs and Chief of Surgery at Wake Forest Baptist Health, and holds a cross-appointment at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine and a joint appointment as Professor of Pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Meredith was recipient of the ACS Distinguished Service Award recognizing his scientific contributions to cardiovascular physiology during resuscitation, trauma registries, and trauma systems as well as his leadership and dedication.

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