If finalized, the proposed ~23% cuts would have a devastating impact on patient access and systemic disparities by accelerating America’s amputation epidemic
Washington, D.C. –– The CardioVascular Coalition (CVC) – a coalition of physicians, care providers, advocates, and manufacturers working to improve awareness and prevention of peripheral artery disease (PAD) – today called on Congress and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to address severe proposed cuts to specialty provider services in order to help increase access to care. As Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Awareness Month begins today, it is a time to reflect on the nearly 20 million Americans impacted by PAD, including an estimated 200,000 individuals who suffer preventable amputations every year due to complications from the chronic disease, and to ensure patients’ access to vascular care that is shown to improve quality of life, reduce care costs, and prevent limb loss.
CMS recently proposed cutting payments for revascularization services by approximately 23% in the proposed Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) Rule for CY2022. The proposed cuts, which are being driven by a provision that purports to update clinical labor data, would have a severe impact on cardiology, vascular surgery, venous, radiation oncology, and radiology practices. Though outpatient health services – including revascularization – are cost-effective and convenient for patients, the proposed cuts would have profoundly negative effects on patient access and health equity. If the proposed cuts are finalized as currently proposed, Medicare beneficiaries will face more serious risks of limb loss.
“As we recognize PAD Awareness Month and the major impact that peripheral artery disease has on Americans – particularly people of color – I’m deeply troubled by CMS’ flawed proposal to cut vital services like revascularization by as much as 23%,” said Dr. Jeff Carr, CVC Board Member. “At a time when America is suffering a PAD and amputation crisis on top of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is absolutely critical to ensure patients’ continued access to the services that are proven to help prevent amputations and slow disease progression. Unless Congress and CMS act to address these proposed cuts, I fear that it will be harder for patients to access necessary care, resulting in even more amputations, worse outcomes, and even greater healthcare disparities.”
According to estimates, PAD affects nearly 20 million Americans and is responsible for 80 percent of the 200,000 non-traumatic limb amputations that take place in the U.S. each year. These non-traumatic amputations often occur without any diagnostic testing, meaning PAD patients are losing limbs before they receive testing to determine if limb-saving interventions are an option.
PAD is exacerbated by conditions like diabetes, chronic hypertension, and renal disease, which are most prevalent in minority populations. Access to revascularization therapies is especially vital to the African American, Hispanic, and Native American populations who are two to four times more likely to undergo a limb amputation due to PAD because of the increased prevalence of diabetes, obesity, and other risk factors.
“To address the issues of patient access and systemic health inequity in our country, CMS must reverse course and not finalize the clinical labor policy in the 2022 PFS Proposed Rule,” continued Dr. Carr. “Further, CMS should work closely with Congress to fundamentally reform the Physician Fee Schedule so that any future unjustified cuts to specialty provider services can be avoided.”
To learn more about PAD and PAD Awareness Month, CLICK HERE.
About the CardioVascular Coalition (CVC)
Our Mission is to advance patient access to care for peripheral artery disease (PAD). Physicians, care providers, advocates, and manufacturers who comprise the CVC are dedicated to community-based solutions designed to improve awareness and prevention of PAD, reduce geographic disparities in access to care, and secure patient access to high-quality, cost-effective interventional treatment across America. Learn more at cardiovascularcoalition.org.