Advocacy Monthly: May 2020

Surgical Care Coalition Takes Aim at Impending Payment Cuts
STS is among a dozen surgical organizations that recently launched a coalition to fight significant Medicare reimbursement cuts planned for January 1, 2021. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will cut reimbursement for cardiothoracic surgery by 7%-8%, related to changes in office and outpatient evaluation and management codes. In addition, CMS is expected to propose a 20% cut in global surgery payments sometime this summer. The Surgical Care Coalition is implementing a comprehensive, multifaceted campaign to prevent these cuts and educate the public and policymakers about the value of surgeons. Earlier this month, you were asked to complete a survey related to the professional challenges you are facing; in the coming weeks and months, you may be asked to participate in other Coalition activities.

ACTION ALERT: Contact Your Members of Congress
In addition to participating in Coalition activities, the Society remains vigilant in its efforts to stop the pending Medicare reimbursement cuts. The STS Legislative Action Center allows you to easily contact your members of Congress and stand up for your colleagues, specialty, and patients. Reach out today and urge lawmakers to waive budget neutrality for Medicare reimbursement in the next COVID-19 relief package. Sample text for the message to Congress is provided, so you only need to log in with your email address and ZIP code, and then hit send. Take action today!

Annals Article Highlights STS COVID-Related Advocacy Efforts
When the enormity of the COVID pandemic was realized earlier this year, STS advocacy efforts kicked into high gear. These included efforts regarding the supply chain, personal protective equipment, medications, and financial relief. Read more in the editorial, “Cardiothoracic Surgical Advocacy in a Time of COVID-19,” by Alan M. Speir, Courtney Yohe, MPP, and Joseph A. Dearani, MD. The editorial is available online now in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

Society Urges Emergency Funding for 501(c)(6) Nonprofits
In a continuation of the Society’s efforts to promote emergency financial relief during the COVID crisis, STS has endorsed the Local Chamber, Tourism, and 501(c)(6) Protection Act. This legislation would expand eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to include 501(c)(6) organizations, including STS, and assist in alleviating financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Last month, the Society sent a letter to Congress that favored the inclusion of 501(c)(6) organizations in PPP.

STS Prepares Comments for CMS Proposed Rule for IPPS
CMS has released the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) for FY 2021. The Society is currently working to submit comments on the relevant components of the rule that may affect members, including changes to the Medicare Severity-Diagnosis Related Groups for left atrial appendage closure and diagnostic open excision of mediastinum, as well as open, percutaneous, and percutaneous endoscopic excision of mediastinum.