Washington, DC – 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 final rule announced yesterday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for the 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule:
“ACOG applauds the CMS for finalizing the proposed payment update for obstetric services. This is just one of many steps to ensure continued access to quality medical care for pregnant and postpartum women. We strongly encourage state Medicaid programs and commercial payers to follow suit and recognize the importance of fair, equitable payment rates for obstetric services. ACOG and its members advocated for the CMS to amend a prior proposal that would have cut rates for obstetric services and threatened access to quality maternity care and we are pleased that our members’ voices were heard.
“ACOG is also unwavering in our commitment to ensuring that women have access to care throughout their lifespan, as the health of women, their families, and their communities depends on it. ACOG is gravely disappointed that CMS finalized deep cuts in surgical services, including gynecologic services and cancer care. At a time when patients experience the consequences of barriers to care daily, cuts could further decimate access to lifesaving care and create additional barriers.
“We are also disappointed in the CMS’s disregard for the challenges that frontline health care professionals face in securing personal protective equipment and the rollback of several telehealth provisions at the end of 2021. The CMS had the opportunity to provide stabilization to physician practices and preserve patient access to care by finalizing payment for the increased cost of personal protected equipment and permanently implementing changes to telehealth payment. ACOG is committed to continuing to work to ensure that frontline health care professionals have the PPE that they need and that evidence-based telehealth services are available for our members and their patients.
“ACOG has continually advocated for the CMS to value women’s health services equitably and ensure that women’s health services value is on par with other evaluation and management value increases. We are surprised that the agency ignored the voice of the medical community in finalizing these cuts. While the final decision by the CMS is disappointing, Congress has the power to avert these harmful cuts and ensure that people do not face increased barriers to lifesaving care. This action is even more urgent during the COVID-19 pandemic, during which many physician practices are experiencing hardships and even closing.
“To ensure that the United States has a foundation for care after the pandemic ends, Congress must act now to preserve patient access to critical gynecologic care.”