Today, U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Representatives Devin Nunes (R-CA-22) and John B. Larson (D-CT-01) introduced bicameral, bipartisan legislation, the Outpatient Surgery Quality and Access Act, to improve access to lower-cost outpatient surgical care. Ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) provide quality services, often at lower costs than hospital outpatient departments, and are forecasted to save Medicare billions of dollars over the coming years. However, current Medicare policies have limited beneficiaries' access to outpatient surgical care and imposed barriers on patients seeking ASC services.
"Seniors deserve the best care possible. By increasing Medicare access to ambulatory surgical centers, patients can receive quality care at a better value for taxpayers," said Dr. Cassidy.
"This legislation expands access to quality, more affordable outpatient surgical care offered at ASCs across the country," said Senator Blumenthal. "As an often more affordable and convenient alternative, these centers offer Medicare beneficiaries procedures and services essential to their well-being and health. By capping copays, improving transparency through price and quality comparison tools, and ensuring ASCs receive fair Medicare reimbursement rates, this bill will reduce out-of-pocket costs and maintain patient access to this valuable care."
"Ambulatory surgical centers are increasingly essential components of our healthcare infrastructure. This bill will improve access to these vital centers, which produce outstanding outcomes for local communities," said Rep. Nunes.
"I am pleased to join Senators Blumenthal and Cassidy and Rep. Nunes to introduce The Outpatient Surgery Quality and Access Act. Connecticut has more than 50 Ambulatory Surgical Centers, with 12 centers located in my district. This bill will ensure that Medicare beneficiaries continue to have access to care in ASCs, and that taxpayers' and seniors' dollars are spent wisely," said Rep. Larson.
The Outpatient Surgery Quality and Access Act would take steps to close the Medicare reimbursement gap for identical services between hospital outpatient departments and ASCs, provide patients with quality comparison measures, and implement a copay cap for procedures performed in ASCs, which will enhance access to care and lower out-of-pocket costs. The bill would also require the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to justify declining to add a procedure to the list of covered ASC services, and add a representative of the ASC community to the Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment.
The Outpatient Surgery Quality and Access Act is endorsed by the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA).