Health Policy Updates

Updated: November 29, 2021

The Society’s legislative committee develops and promotes the Society’s positions on issues impacting breast surgeons and their patients. Through legislative advocacy, engaging with officials at regulatory agencies and coalition-building, the Society works on behalf of our members to ensure key issues impacting breast surgeons are brought to legislative and regulatory decision makers.

Key Issues

Appropriate reimbursement for surgical services

The Medicare physician payment system must be improved to guarantee reasonable and consistent reimbursement for surgical services. Due to a combination of factors, surgeons have faced annual proposed cuts in the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule that must be averted by Congress at the last minute. This is not a sustainable system. ASBrS will continue to push for long-term reform of Medicare reimbursement, while ensuring that Congress steps in as needed to avert immediate reductions.

Meaningful liability reform

While States can enact meaningful legislative reforms of medical malpractice law, ASBrS is committed to fixing the medical liability system at the federal level by adopting innovative solutions that ensure liability protections for physicians who follow evidence-based practice guidelines established by their specialties or for physicians who provide volunteer services in emergency situations. This approach would protect the rights of patients harmed by truly negligent acts while also protecting the rights of physicians practicing evidence-based medicine.

Promoting initiatives designed to optimize quality care for all patients

Federal agencies continue to change the quality and cost reporting requirements with implications for reporting burden and payments. The evolving landscape has created challenges in ensuring that Medicare pay-for-performance programs base payment updates on measures that matter in the care of breast surgery patients and reflect the value of care provided for our patients.

Promoting graduate medical education

For the most part, federal support for GME has been frozen since 1997, even though the country’s need for physicians has only increased. In the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, enacted in December 2020, Congress provided funding for 1,000 new Medicare-supported residency slots. Although the 1,000 new slots are a start, they will not remedy our physician shortage. ASBrS continues to work with other stakeholders to support GME legislation when it is introduced and to try to leverage every major legislative vehicle to include funding for additional residency slots.

How We Work for You

Twice a year, ASBrS holds an advocacy day in which surgeons can participate. Our most recent virtual fly-in was held on April 16th and included surgeons from Virginia, Wisconsin, and Oregon. The group introduced ASBrS to congressional staff, highlighted our Medicare Physician Fee Schedule reimbursement challenges, and discussed the Comprehensive Breast Reconstruction Act, which would provide for coverage of nipple-areolar complex tattooing following mastectomy and extend Medicare and Medicaid coverage of certain post-mastectomy breast reconstructive services. Additionally, ASBrS has engaged in the following outreach.

Date

Topic

View

11/29/21 Joined with numerous health care organizations to urge Congress to maintain the 2021 3.75% increase to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule conversion factor through 2022 PDF 
09/17/21 Submitted comments on the 2022 Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System Proposed Rule PDF 
09/13/21 Submitted comments on the 2022 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Proposed Rule PDF 
09/01/21 Supported graduate medical education funding in Budget Reconciliation legislation PDF 
08/16/21 Supported the bipartisan Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options for Veterans Act, which would improve mammography services for patients covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. PDF 
08/02/21 Supported the Protecting Access to Lifesaving Screenings (PALS) Act of 2021, which would extend the existing moratorium on implementation of a recommendation by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) to begin biennial breast cancer screenings at age 50 instead of the previously recommended 40 PDF 
07/23/21 Wrote to Appropriations Committee Labor-HHS Subcommittee leadership to express support for several provisions benefiting breast cancer patients in the draft fiscal year 2022 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies funding bill PDF 
07/23/21 Joined with organizations representing over one million healthcare providers to urge Congress to maintain the 2021 3.75% increase to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule conversion factor through 2022 PDF 
07/22/21 Joined coalition of 24 organizations urging CMS to increase value of global surgical codes PDF 
06/15/21 Engaged the Director of the Innovation Center related to changes to the Radiation Oncology (RO Model). ASBrS expressed concern about the Innovation Center’s decision to completely remove IORT from the scope of the model and urged reconsideration PDF