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Neurosurgeons Raise the Alarm about Medicare’s Proposed Physician Fee Schedule

On Aug. 4, the AANS and the CNS announced their strong opposition to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule proposed rule released by CMS for calendar year 2021. Under the proposal, neurosurgeons face overall payment cuts of at least 7% at a time when the nation’s health care system is already stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The reductions are primarily driven by new Medicare payment policies for office and outpatient visits that CMS will implement on Jan. 1, 2021.

“Now is not the time to reduce payments for surgical care, and if implemented as is, the Medicare payment rule will challenge an already fragile health care system,” said AANS/CNS Washington Committee chair, Ann R. Stroink, MD, FAANS. Dr. Stroink went on to conclude that this “was an ill-informed and dangerous policy for patients even before the pandemic started but could be even more detrimental as our health care system continues to weaken under COVID-19. If finalized, this proposal could result in neurosurgeons taking fewer Medicare patients leading to longer wait times and reduced access to care for older Americans, so Congress must act now to prevent this from happening.”

On Aug. 4, the AANS and the CNS also joined with other medical groups representing more than 350,000 physicians and 764,000 nonphysician health care providers in a press release calling on Congress to pass legislation to stop arbitrary Medicare cuts to specialty physicians and nonphysician providers. These organizations are calling on Congress and CMS to develop a solution that will allow the changes to the E/M services to proceed — while at the same time preventing cuts — and waiving Medicare’s budget neutrality requirements for the E/M policy is the most straightforward solution.

8-25 E-news