AAOS urges CMS to reconsider Medicare cuts to orthopedic care


The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons has urged CMS to reconsider its Medicare Physician Fee Schedule rule for 2021, which outlines significant cuts to reimbursement rates for orthopedic surgical services, among other specialties.

Under the rule, payments for orthopedic surgical services would be decreased by about 5 percent. Moreover, CMS plans to reduce the work relative value units for hip and knee replacements by an additional 5.4 percent.

AAOS President Joseph Bosco, MD, said the society is "extremely disappointed" at CMS' decision to move forward with these cuts after AAOS provided data and engaged in several discussions against them.

The society called on CMS to reconsider the preoperative work required to "make value-based care both cost-effective and high-quality" and refrain from implementing the cuts to orthopedic care, Dr. Bosco said.

"Devaluing the time and effort that orthopedic surgeons spend prioritizing value-based care communicates a larger plan by the agency to gradually reduce the value of these procedures," he added. 

CMS' proposed cuts would worsen the financial strain on practices already struggling with the economic blow caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and decrease access to surgery for senior citizens, according to AAOS.

Dr. Bosco also noted that orthopedic surgeons have the highest participation rates across medical specialties in value-based payment models.

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