Newswise — Medicare has finalized a regulation mandating drastic cuts to its payment rates for important health care services, threatening the practices of physician anesthesiologists who have been on the front lines of the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) opposes these detrimental payment reductions, and urges Congress to take immediate action to override the cuts and ensure physician anesthesiologists can continue to care for their patients while being fairly compensated for their work.
During the pandemic, the important role of physicians – the foundation of our nation’s health care system – has never been more evident. More has been asked of them than ever before, and they should not be threatened by funding cuts that make the economic status of their practices less stable.
“Physician anesthesiologists are at the forefront of the pandemic. With their medical expertise in anesthesiology and critical care, our members are taking care of critically ill patients and putting themselves at risk every time they step into the hospital,” said ASA President Beverly K. Philip, M.D., FACA, FASA. “These proposed payment reductions will hurt practices already weakened by the economy. Now is not the time for payment cuts to frontline physicians.”
Each year, Medicare releases payment rates for physicians for the approaching year. An outdated federal law requires payment increases for services paid in the fee schedule to be offset by reductions in payments to others. Under this new regulation, many physicians, including surgeons, intensivists and anesthesiologists, will experience severe payment cuts, directly affecting the sustainability of their practices. In the recently released rates, the specialty of anesthesiology will have its Medicare rates reduced close to those set in 1991, 30 years ago.
ASA and its grassroots members have communicated with hundreds of Congressional offices regarding the impact of these cuts on front-line physicians. Additionally, ASA is working shoulder to shoulder with other impacted specialties, including surgeons, radiologists, and even non-physician providers, on a full-scale campaign to block the implementation of the cuts. ASA urges Congress to act before the end of the year to prevent the imposition of the payment cuts and remove this threat to physician anesthesiologists’ practices at a time when their expertise and critical care skills have never been more important.
THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF ANESTHESIOLOGISTS Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 54,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves.
For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists online at asahq.org. To learn more about the role physician anesthesiologists play in ensuring patient safety, visit asahq.org/madeforthismoment. Like ASA on Facebook and follow ASALifeline on Twitter.