December 22, 2020
American Society of Anesthesiologists Commends Congress for Work on Surprise Medical Bills and Medicare Payment Cuts in 2nd COVID-19 Stimulus Bill; But Vows to Continue to Work for Revisions and Enhancements for a Fair Resolution on Both
CHICAGO – The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is pleased that a number of ASA’s priorities were addressed in the most recent COVID-19 stimulus bill; some improvements to the final surprise medical bill provisions and partial relief from the previous draconian Medicare cuts scheduled for January 1, 2021.
“I believe our specialty will be better off in 2021 than was initially anticipated,” said ASA President Beverly K. Philip, M.D., FACA, FASA. “However, the surprise medical bill provisions and the Medicare payment cut relief remain far less than ideal. ASA remains committed to working vigorously on these issues, to ensure that frontline anesthesiologists are in no way disadvantaged.”
Regarding Surprise Medical Bills, ASA worked with other physician stakeholders to secure important additional improvements into the bill that were not included in the December 11, “No Surprises Act” draft proposal, including:
- An explicit prohibition on health insurance companies presenting artificially low Medicare, Medicaid and public payer rates to an arbiter as part of the independent dispute resolution (IDR) system.
- Elimination of unreasonable timelines and other requirements related to patient notification and billing requirements.
- Enhanced physician access to the IDR process by adding clarity to the “90 days cooling-off period”
The language in this bill are improvements to earlier proposals, which included aggressive government rate-setting, administrative burdens on small and medium sized practices, and inaccessible and insurer-friendly dispute resolution processes.
As for Medicare payment cuts, the bill provides modest relief from the New Year’s Medicare cuts. The scheduled cut to the anesthesia conversion factor will be reduced to a 3% cut rather than the previously proposed 10% cut. An improvement, but still entirely inadequate for a specialty already hampered with a flawed payment rate, whose members are caring for COVID-19 patients on the frontlines of the pandemic.
“One of the few things all Americans can agree upon is that all those physicians putting their own wellbeing at risk working in hospitals are the true heroes of this public health crisis. Cuts to physicians providing care to Medicare patients especially at this time is just not right.” said Dr. Philip.
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, follow ASALifeline on Twitter.
# # #