Washington, D.C.– The following statement was released by Eva Chalas, MD, FACOG, FACS, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and Maureen G. Phipps, MD, MPH, FACOG, chief executive officer of ACOG, on the proposed rule announced yesterday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for the 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule:
“ACOG commends CMS for protecting the availability of quality medical care for pregnant and postpartum women by proposing to increase the relative value of the global obstetric packages commensurate with the increases for other types of office visits in 2021.
“We thank CMS for directly responding to input provided by ACOG regarding the methodology and valuation used to determine payment rates for maternity care. By listening to ACOG and the concerns of our 60,000 members, CMS will help to ensure the sustainability of high-quality obstetric practices across the country, improving health care for women.
“CMS previously finalized a policy to increase Medicare payment rates for outpatient evaluation and management (E/M) services, but because CMS did not apply those increases to the global obstetric packages, this policy would have resulted in payment cuts for obstetric services in 2021. Those cuts would have reduced reimbursement rates across payers, including Medicaid, TRICARE, and commercial insurers, increasing barriers to care and potentially worsening inequities in maternal health outcomes.
“We also thank CMS for recognizing the increased expense incurred by obstetrician-gynecologists when performing many gynecologic procedures by adjusting their relative values for practice expense and professional liability costs.
“For the last year, ACOG has advocated for CMS to value women’s health services equitably and to ensure that their value is on par with other E/M value increases.
“These proposals, along with proposals to improve Medicare beneficiaries’ access to telehealth services, demonstrate CMS’ commitment to advancing our common goal of improving women’s health. While we are still reviewing the proposal, ACOG urges CMS to finalize the increased values for obstetric and gynecologic services in the 2021 final rule.
“Although we appreciate the agency’s actions, ACOG is deeply concerned that CMS is moving forward with payment cuts for surgical services. This will further jeopardize access to gynecologic surgery and the ongoing stability of obstetrics and gynecology practices that were struggling financially even before the COVID-19 pandemic. We strongly oppose these unfair cuts and pledge to continue our advocacy to ensure that all women’s health services are equitably and fairly valued.”