SCAI commends Rep. Michael Burgess, MD, (R-Texas), and co-sponsor Rep. Bobby Rush, (D-Ill.), for introducing bipartisan legislation that would temporarily waive budget neutrality requirements for one year under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. Absent such action, interventional cardiologists stand to experience an approximately 10 percent drop in Medicare reimbursement next year, in addition to revenue losses due to patient fears of Covid-19 while obtaining medical treatment.

Burgess, a physician, and U.S. Congressman from Texas introduced bipartisan legislation that would halt millions in pending cuts to interventional cardiologists and other specialties. Cindy Grines, MD, president of SCAI, said now “now is not the time to reduce payment and increase further risks to access to high-quality cardiovascular care. SCAI strongly urges CMS to maintain the current funding levels to preserve access to patient care in the wake of the COVID-19 public health emergency.”

Rush and congressional colleagues first placed the Administration on notice about these scheduled cuts in August, calling reductions to physician pay during a pandemic “reckless” and “ill-conceived.”

The Burgess-Rush measure, H.R. 8505, would provide a “critical reprieve” from forthcoming financial pressure, said Dr. Grines. “We’re asking all SCAI members to write their Member of Congress and ask them to support the Burgess-Rush bill before it is too late,” Grines added.

SCAI and numerous other physician and provider groups have intensified pressure on lawmakers in recent weeks, hoping for immediate action. SCAI and a coalition representing 1.4 million physicians and other practitioners sent a stern letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, “strenuously” objecting to the payment changes.

Others signing the note included the American Society of Neuroradiology, the Alliance for Physical Therapy Quality and Innovation, and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, stating that it would still allow scheduled payment increases for primary care and other physician office visits to go into effect. CMS has planned to boost pay for these evaluation and management services by $5 billion, requiring offsetting cuts in the 2021 budget.

Medicare’s proposed cuts to specialty providers threatened to impose severe financial constraints on practices and undermine patient access to the critical care services they need.

Reps. Rush and Burgess first introduced the bill on Oct. 2, and it has been referred to multiple House committees for consideration. A letter supporting the need for Congress to address these cuts was recently sent to House Leadership from 229 bipartisan House Members.