October 23, 2020
Cardiovascular Groups Commend Bipartisan House Bill Seeking to Prevent Medicare Cuts for Specialty Care Providers
October 23, 2020––The CardioVascular Coalition (CVC) praised members of the US House of Representatives for introducing H.R. 8505. The bill seeks to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for a 1-year waiver of budget neutrality adjustments under the Medicare physician fee schedule.
According to CVC, the bipartisan bill is intended to prevent Medicare reimbursement cuts to a number of specialty providers from going into effect on January 1, 2021.
By waiving budget neutrality rules for 1 year, the legislation would allow the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to allow scheduled evaluation and management (E/M) increases to go into effect without requiring Medicare to curtail reimbursements from 33 specialty providers, including vascular surgery, cardiac surgery, interventional radiology, and interventional cardiology.
According to the CY2021 Physician Fee Schedule proposed rule issued in early August, CMS intends to cut vascular surgery by 7%, cardiac surgery by 9%, and interventional radiology by 9%, as well as interventional cardiology in order to offset the costs involved with additional increases to E/M services.
H.R. 8505 is sponsored by Representatives Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Michael Burgess, MD (R-TX).
Additionally, CVC advised that a substantial number of bipartisan lawmakers have voiced concerns about Medicare’s proposed cuts and have called for budget neutrality requirements to be waived. In late September, more than 160 lawmakers led by Representatives Rush and Roger Marshall, MD (R-KS) sent a letter to CMS expressing deep concern about slashing support to specialty providers during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
“Patient access is paramount for proper treatment and amputation prevention for individuals with peripheral artery disease,” commented Jeffrey Carr, MD, in the CVC press release. Dr. Carr is cofounder of the Outpatient Endovascular and Interventional Society and a member of the CVC. “At a time when the entire health care system is under unprecedented strain from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is completely irresponsible for CMS to push forward with severe specialty cuts that threaten to undermine Medicare beneficiaries’ access to dozens of critical services.”
Dr. Carr continued, “We applaud Reps. Burgess and Rush for their commitment to ensuring America’s seniors continue uninterrupted access to specialty care, and urge Congress to quickly pass the bipartisan H.R. 8505.”
In a separate announcement on October 20, the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) issued a statement also commending Representatives Burgess and Rush for introducing the bipartisan legislation.
SCAI President Cindy Grines, MD, commented in the press release, “Now is not the time to reduce payment and increase further risks to access to high-quality cardiovascular care. SCAI strongly urges CMS to maintain the current funding levels to preserve access to patient care in the wake of the COVID-19 public health emergency.” Dr. Grines noted that the Burgess-Rush measure, H.R. 8505, would provide a “critical reprieve” from forthcoming financial pressure.
“We’re asking all SCAI members to write their Member of Congress and ask them to support the Burgess-Rush bill before it is too late,” stated Dr. Grines in the SCAI announcement.