From the Washington Office

From the Washington Office



In November 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services finalized a policy that will transition all 10-day and 90-day global codes to 0-day global codes in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

As most surgeons will know, global codes include all necessary services normally furnished before, during, and after a surgical procedure. Approximately 4,200 of the more than 9,900 Current Procedural Terminology codes are 10-day or 90-day global codes. The CMS claims the transition is necessary, in part, to increase the accuracy of payment for these codes. Despite the fact that the policy for the 10-day codes will be put into effect in 2017, the CMS has yet to develop a methodology for making this transition.

Dr. Patrick V. Bailey
Dr. Patrick V. Bailey

Prior to the release of the final rule, the ACS sent a detailed letter to the CMS asserting that the agency should postpone moving forward with this proposal until a comprehensive analysis of the effect on surgical patients and access to surgical care was completed. The ACS included recommendations on a number of issues that the CMS must resolve before moving forward with the proposed policy and stressed, above all, that the CMS should not make policy changes that infringe on surgeons’ ability to provide high-quality care to surgical patients. Despite the ACS regulatory advocacy efforts and those similar from other surgical and medical specialty groups, the CMS finalized the rule and continues to indicate that it plans to move forward.

During the lame duck session of Congress following the November election, a coalition of surgical groups led by the ACS drafted and provided to Congress legislative language the effect of which would be to preclude the CMS from moving forward with its plan to transition the 10-day and 90-day global codes to 0-day global codes.

The groups involved mounted an aggressive campaign, strongly advocating for the inclusion of the legislative language in the “CRomnibus” bill. Despite strong support from the Congressional “Doc Caucus” and other members of Congress, no language addressing transitioning of the global codes was included in the “CRomnibus” bill, which passed both chambers at the conclusion of the 113th Congress.

Now that the 114th Congress has begun, the ACS, working again in concert with the aforementioned coalition of other surgical and medical specialty groups, is taking a variety of strategic actions on both the legislative and regulatory fronts. Working with key members of Congress including Rep. Larry Bucshon, MD, FACS, Rep. Tom Price, MD, FACS, and Rep. Dan Benishek, MD, FACS, the ACS will continue to oppose implementation of the policy change by seeking congressional intervention to rescind the rule until such time as the CMS can ensure that the transition will not have a negative impact on patients and can be implemented in a way that accurately accounts for the care that surgeons provide.

Revised legislative language has been provided to Congress. Members of the ACS DAHP legislative affairs staff are engaged in daily advocacy efforts for inclusion of that language in legislation. ACS leaders and DAHP regulatory affairs staff have met with the CMS in an attempt to provide education concerning what is believed will be significant, negative impact of the policy on both patients and surgeons.

Fellows are encouraged to augment the efforts of the DAHP by personally contacting their senators and representatives to educate them about the following negative potential consequences the implementation of this policy would be expected to have:

1. Reduces patient access and quality of care. If 10-day and 90-day global codes are transitioned to 0-day global codes, patients will have a copay for the procedure and additional, separate copays for other services including each of the follow-up visits. Patients may also be responsible for separate payment of supplies and drugs necessary during postop visits currently bundled into the global payment, but not bundled into visit codes. This could considerably increase the financial burden on patients, or worse, discourage them from returning for follow-up care.

2. Undermines the current SGR legislation and other Medicare reform initiatives. The CMS initiatives for payment are all moving toward larger bundled payments. Deconstruction of the current payment structure for physicians is counterintuitive to the end goal of providing more comprehensive and coordinated care for patients.

3. Increases administrative burden. The administrative burden on surgical practices, the CMS, and its contractors will be significant. The American Medical Association estimates that eliminating the global package will result in 63 million additional claims per year to account for postsurgical evaluation and management services. This will add unnecessary costs to the claims processing system.

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