CMS Cuts Reimbursement for Cardiothoracic Surgeons

In its final Physician Fee Schedule for calendar year 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) cut payments for cardiothoracic surgical procedures by up to 7%. This cut is the result of CMS increasing reimbursement for evaluation and management (E/M) office visits without applying the same updates to postoperative visits that are bundled into global surgical payments. Because there is a set pool of money for Medicare payments, an increase to one type of service (E/M office visits) mandates cuts for other services—in this case, global surgical payments. Additionally, CMS finalized an add-on code to provide an extra payment for primary care visits.

Cuts of this magnitude represent a very real threat to the financial viability of cardiothoracic surgeons’ clinical practices and, more importantly, could limit patient access to care. STS is actively communicating with Congressional allies and other medical/surgical specialties impacted by this latest CMS policy. All possible angles will be explored, including legislation that could mandate equitable payment updates or add more money to the Medicare program.

Urge Congress to Stop These Cuts

It is critically important that legislators hear from STS members about why reversing these reimbursement cuts is essential to providing high-quality patient care. Please take 5 minutes to send a message to your Members of Congress today. Access sample text via the link below, and send a message now. (Note: You’ll need to log in with your email address and ZIP code.)