Post-election hopes from 4 spine surgeons


From new regulations for commercial payers to limiting reimbursement cuts, four spine surgeons share their post-election hopes.

Ask Spine Surgeons is a weekly series of questions posed to spine surgeons around the country about clinical, business and policy issues affecting spine care. We invite all spine surgeon and specialist responses.

Next week's question: In what other country, if any, would you consider practicing spine surgery? Why?

Please send responses to Alan Condon at by 5 p.m. CST Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Note: The following responses were lightly edited for style and clarity.

Question: Now that the election has passed, what are your hopes for the next four years?

Issada Thongtrangan, MD. Microspine (Phoenix): For 2021, I hope for the implementation and administration of COVID vaccination access throughout the U.S. I also hope for a reasonable national plan to control the COVID-19 pandemic. In the long term, I would like to see professional reimbursement not getting cut each year. It is somewhat challenging to deliver high-quality care when healthcare costs keep increasing, but reimbursement is going down. I also want to see the national registry in spine and other subspecialties so we have the data as a nation.

John Burleson, MD. Hughston Clinic Orthopaedics (Nashville, Tenn.): I hope our patients are able to access care as needed with more transparency. It would be incredible if, in the next four years, we moved towards a situation in which I will be able to tell patients how much procedures will cost ahead of time. It would also be incredible if I didn't have surgeries declined by payers, only to have me explain to a podiatrist why they are in fact medically indicated and covered by their plan.

Christian Zimmerman, MD. Saint Alphonsus Medical Group and SAHS Neuroscience Institute (Boise, Idaho): Pan global acquired immunity to COVID, one way or another. The realization for all Americans to appreciate this country for its past endeavors and future prospects. Pie in the sky: suppression of partisan politics and slanted media. This affects the future of this nation with its incessantly professed hatred and furthers divide. Cataclysm can ignite the human spirit of benevolence and giving. Two decades is enough.

Hamid Abbasi, MD. PhD. Inspired Spine (Burnsville, Minn.): Reduce the power of insurance carriers to run the lives of providers and patients.

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