President Barack Obama Signs 21st Century Cures Act

December 13, 2016

President Barack Obama, today, signed into law the 21st Century Cures Act, legislation approved by the US Senate and House of Representatives last week that includes two key provisions that benefit Medicare patients and the physicians who care for them in ASCs. ASCA recently commended Congress for recognizing the value that ASCs provide by approving the two provisions as part of this legislation.

These provisions were included in the larger 'Cures' legislation because they received broad, bipartisan support thanks to the combined efforts of ASC-supportive members of Congress and the ASCA members who invested their time and energy to participate in fly-ins and grassroots efforts to educate their elected officials.

The first provision, Section 4012, directs the Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create a public, searchable web site that allows Medicare beneficiaries to compare differences in their out-of-pocket costs and in the total expenses for various surgeries when those procedures are performed in hospital outpatient departments (HOPDs) and ASCs.

The second provision, Section 16003, protects physicians who practice in an ASC from potential penalties tied to the Medicare meaningful use program. Current law requires Medicare providers to adopt and use certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT) for a fixed percentage of their patients; unfortunately, no CEHRT is currently available for ASC encounters. As a result, physicians who bring patients to ASCs could face cuts in their professional fees even though meeting the program’s threshold is not possible in the ASC setting. This legislation protects physicians who perform surgery in ASCs and authorizes HHS to approve CEHRT for the ASC setting.

To all the individuals who made this possible, thank you! Your letters, phone calls and meetings with your elected officials made these victories possible.