A few years ago, in his presidential address to the Midwestern Vascular Surgical Society (MVSS), Mark Mattos, MD, spoke eloquently about the need to “protect our specialty.” A large part of this, he argued, is protecting our patients; no other specialty in medicine can provide the type of comprehensive vascular care that we offer.
The daily reality we call face is the potential for declining Medicare reimbursement for our services. As a member of the Surgical Coalition, the Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) is always dealing with Medicare payments being under pressure from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) anti-inflationary payment policies. While physician services represent a very modest portion of the overall growth in Medicare spending, these services are perennial targets for cuts when policymakers seek to tackle spending.
Although Congress repeatedly intervened to prevent reimbursement cuts to surgeons, Medicare physician payments have remained constrained by a budget-neutral financing system. Moreover, updates to the conversion factor (CF) have failed to keep up with inflation. The result is that the CF today is only about 50% of what it would have been if it had simply been indexed to general inflation starting in 1998. For calendar year 2022 payments, the SVS will again need its members’ help to address potential reductions in Medicare payments.
This is your Society, and your Political Action Committee (PAC) is here to be the conduit from those of us on the frontlines of vascular disease management to our legislators. Every month the members of the PAC committee write letters, attend online events with legislators and work to make sure that our specialty and our patients are represented.
On average, about 7–10% of our members donate to the PAC annually. Our PAC has been fighting for us for years. And it has had a positive impact in fighting off reduced surgical reimbursement from CMS for our services as recently as last year. If our Society is going to be able to continue to positively impact legislation, such as the potential CY 2022 Medicare payment cuts, we need your help.
Peter Rossi, MD, is an SVS PAC Committee member.