AAOS Alarmed by CMS Proposal that Reduces the Value of and Access to Orthopaedic Care

American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) President Joseph A. Bosco III, MD, FAAOS, issued the following statement in response to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) newly released Calendar Year (CY) 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule rule, which proposes to reduce all orthopaedic surgical services by approximately 5%. The mounting tension on musculoskeletal care is further compounded by CMS’ proposal to reduce the work relative value units for hip and knee arthroplasty by an additional 5.4%.

“The AAOS is extremely disappointed in CMS’ decision to disregard our petitioning, many discussions and data presented against these cuts. Devaluing the time and effort that orthopaedic surgeons spend prioritizing value-based care communicates a larger plan by the agency to gradually reduce the value of these procedures. Not to mention the fact that our surgeons have the highest participation rates across medical subspecialties in alternative payment models, where they work to optimize care and improve patient outcomes all while reducing costs.

“Worsening the financial strain on these practices, at a time when they have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 federal guidelines to delay care, will have a severe and lasting impact on American seniors’ access to these life-improving surgeries. According to an AAOS survey conducted earlier this year, 34% of patients had postponed surgeries by more than three months in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

“The AAOS urges CMS to reconsider the significant preoperative work that is required to make value-based care both cost-effective and high-quality, and to refrain from finalizing both of these punitive cuts on the value of orthopaedic care.”

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