ASC Advocates Talk to Congress about Quality and Price Transparency


ate in September, two Capitol Hill hearings provided opportunities for ASC sup- porters to talk with members of Congress about the value that ASCs provide to patients and the need for improved quality and price transparency in health care. The House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health convened the first of the two hearings on September 13 to examine barriers to expanding inno- vative, value-based care in Medicare. Panel witness Michael Weinstein, MD, presi- dent of the national Digestive Health Physicians Association, lauded ASCs for their cost savings and high-quality care. Calling for policy reforms that would support improved patient care and lower costs, he added, “… patients should be able to access uniform quality and patient outcome metrics across sites-of-service for identical pro- cedures. Disparate quality measures for each site-of-service do not allow for digest- ible apples-to-apples comparisons by patients considering their treatment options.” Similarly, on September 18, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing to examine how transparency can lower spend- ing and empower patients. Ty Tippets, chief executive officer and administrator of St. George Surgical Center in St. George, Utah, represented the ASC community at that hearing. Since 2013, Tippets’ ASC has posted prices on its website for more than 220 procedures. “If we are to truly empower patients to get the best value for their health care

dollars,” Tippets told the committee, “both price and quality data must be transpar- ent, meaningful and comparable across all settings where care is available.” With growing interest in consumerism in health care, we can expect the topic of transparency to be raised with increasing frequency. ASCs have a long history of leading innovation in health care, and this issue gives us another opportunity to advocate for our patients and lead the way in meaningful reform. Meanwhile, transparency was not the only ASC issue on the table in Washington, DC, this September. Early in the month, ASCA members participating in ASCA’s National Advocacy Day visited with their members of congress on Capitol Hill to help build support for ASC issues including the Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment Transparency Act (H.R. 6138). This legislation passed the US House of Representa- tives unanimously during July and would add an ASC industry representative to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Advisory Panel on Hospital Out- patient Payment. It would also require CMS to disclose the criteria it uses to deter- mine the ASC Medicare procedure list. Also in September, ASCA submitted lengthy comments to CMS regarding Medicare’s proposed 2019 ASC payment rule. The good news ASCs got in 2018 is the result of the dedicated advocacy efforts

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of ASCA members from across the country over many years. I thank everyone who participated. At the same time, we need to remember that this is no time to ease up. As health care continues to transition from inpatient to outpatient, new interest in the ASC model is coming from every direction. If we are to continue to lead the way in this evolution of care, we need to remain connected and involved. We need the support of the entire ASC community behind us.

Bill Prentice Chief Executive Officer


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