Washington, DC – The American College of Cardiology (ACC) is currently hosting its annual Legislative Conference where more than 350 cardiovascular professionals from across the country are hearing from various health policy experts and sharing stories from their home states.
On Tuesday, September 15, 2009, these cardiovascular professionals will descend on Capitol Hill to meet with Members of Congress about important health reform initiatives and ask Congress to stop the proposed Medicare cuts to critical cardiology services.
The ACC believes reform of our current health care system is essential. Forty-three percent of Medicare dollars are spent on heart disease, our country's number one killer. The ACC offers itself and its 37,000 members as a resource to Congress as they undertake important system transformation and work to improve cardiac care.
“Congress must work to deliver health care reform this year and we support that effort; however, separately, the devastating Medicare cuts to cardiology services must be stopped,” said Alfred A. Bove, M.D., president of the ACC.
The ACC is committed to taking a leadership role in health care reform centered on increasing the quality of care and ensuring greater patient value. As health care reform moves through Congress, the ACC believes engaging the medical profession is essential to developing an effective and coordinated health care system.
The ACC stands ready to support and urges Congress to reach agreement this year on real health care reform that:
- Ensures access to affordable health care for all Americans;
Includes delivery and payment system reforms that provide incentives for improvement of quality and outcomes;
- Repeals the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula used to calculate Medicare physician payment;
- Emphasizes professionalism and patient-centered care;
- Improves care coordination across sources and sites through interoperable health information technology;
- Implements medical liability reforms that reduce legal and defensive medicine costs; and
- Promotes comparative effectiveness research to better inform guidelines, performance measures and appropriate use criteria.
“Unfortunately, proposed payment cuts in the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) 2010 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule threaten the College’s ability to effectively participate in reform efforts,” said Dr. Bove.
CMS has proposed several technical changes in how payments are calculated resulting in cuts ranging from 11 percent to more than 40 percent for cardiology services. These estimated cuts for cardiology would be in addition to the 21.5 percent reduction to the Medicare conversion factor that will take effect January 1 if Congress does not intervene.
“Deaths from heart disease have dropped by 30 percent over the last eight years. Sustaining this progress for patients will require adequate and predictable payment for these live-saving cardiology services,” said Jack Lewin, M.D., CEO of the ACC. “Cuts of this magnitude will cripple cardiology practices and threaten access to services that prevent premature death and disability for millions of Americans.”
These proposed cuts underscore the need for overarching health reform that focuses on both reducing costs and improving quality. The ACC firmly believes that carefully crafted partnerships are critical to enacting real reforms and expediting the progress needed.