The American College of Surgeons (ACS), the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), and other medical societies recently sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) opposing the agency’s plan to reverse its certification requirement for bariatric surgery facilities. The organizations maintain that removing the certification requirement could place Medicare patients at risk and is based on an incomplete review and analysis of the evidence.
"Substantial gains have been made in the quality of bariatric surgery because of certified and accredited programs," said ACS Executive Director David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS. "This proposed decision by CMS could be a setback, particularly for the Medicare beneficiaries, who have a higher risk of morbidity and mortality than the general bariatric surgery population."
In its proposed decision memo, CMS wrote, "There is little evidence that the requirement for facility certification/COE (center of excellence) designation for coverage of approved bariatric surgery procedures impacts outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries." However, several studies point to the positive effects of facility certification. In fact, a new study conducted by researchers at the University of California-Irvine indicates that the in-hospital mortality rate at non-accredited bariatric centers is more than three times higher than at accredited centers (0.22% vs. 0.06%).
Other groups that signed the joint letter include The Obesity Society, the American Society of Bariatric Physicians, and the Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons. View the press release announcing the joint letter at http://www.facs.org/news/2013/medicare0813.html.