ASCA News Digest (December 22, 2020)


Being an ASCA member gives you and your staff access to vital educational resources, timely networking, essential news, information and tools that apply daily in your practice. Don't delay—if you haven't already, renew your membership today to make sure you have continuing access to these valuable benefits into the new year.

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There’s still time to register for the ASCA 2021 Virtual Coding & Reimbursement Seminar, set to take place during the afternoons of Monday, January 11; Tuesday, January 19; and Monday, January 25.

During this popular seminar—now a virtual event—you'll hear from industry experts as they discuss the coding and billing updates for 2021 and share strategies you can use to maximize your ASC's reimbursements.

ASCA members save $100 on each registration. Register today!
Be sure to download the recording of ASCA’s final webinar of 2020, Understanding Medicare’s 2021 Final Payment Rule, to get the final word on the changes to Medicare’s ASC payment system that will take effect January 1, 2021.

Additionally, due to the cancellation of the “CMS Quality Reporting for ASCs” webinar, participants will also receive a brief update on the CMS 2021 Quality Reporting Program. Register for this webinar today.

This program is also included in ASCA’s 2020 Webinar All-Access Pass, which provides access to all 20 webinars in this year's series for one low fee.
The Joint Commission of Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, recently announced revisions to its requirements for ambulatory healthcare organizations and office-based surgery practices related to performing history and physical examinations prior to operative or surgical procedures. Read this ASC Focus article for more information on the revisions.
On December 9, the US House of Representatives unanimously passed the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act of 2020. If enacted, this legislation would end the out-of-pocket expenses that occur if a polyp is discovered and removed during a screening colonoscopy.
ASCA News Digest to Return January 5
Due to the holidays, the ASCA News Digest will not be published on December 29. The next edition will be published on Tuesday, January 5. ASCA wishes you a safe and happy holiday season.


The shift of procedures from the hospital to outpatient settings has gained momentum in recent years as commercial insurers boosted coverage and surgeons warmed to the idea of treating patients in ambulatory surgery centers. Now that Medicare is catching up to this trend, experts expect the outpatient procedure migration to speed up with medical device companies like Stryker and Zimmer Biomet looking to capitalize on this shift, particularly in the orthopaedic space.
Healthcare Dive (12/16/20) Zipp, Ricky
Whenever and wherever lasers, electrosurgical systems, radio frequency devices, hyfrecators, ultrasonic scalpels, power tools and other heat destructive devices are used, everyone in the area – including the patient – may be exposed to surgical smoke. Surgical smoke plume can contain toxic gases and vapors such as benzene, hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, bioaerosols, dead and live cellular material (including blood fragments) and viruses.
Joint Commission News Release (12/16/20)
Findings from new UnitedHealth Group research underscore the importance of optimizing sites of care to improve patient safety and reduce costs. In particular, conducting more joint replacement surgeries in ambulatory surgery centers could result in 500,000 fewer hospitalizations and $3 billion in annual savings.
UnitedHealth Group (12/10/20)
U.S. physicians appear to be taking the advice "it pays to diversify" to heart as AMA research shows a majority of doctors are now receiving compensation via two or more methods. The percentage of physicians who were paid by a single method dropped to 42.7 percent in 2018 from 51.8 percent in 2012, with salary and compensation based on productivity being the two most prominent payment methods.
American Medical Association (12/17/20) Robeznieks, Andis
Total national healthcare spending in 2019 grew 4.6 percent, which was similar to the 4.7 percent growth in 2018 and the average annual growth since 2016 of 4.5 percent, according to a study conducted by the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and published today ahead of print by Health Affairs. This report includes health expenditure data though 2019 and therefore does not include any of the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on health care spending.
CMS News Release (12/16/20)
Today, there are nearly 6,000 Medicare- certified ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) nationwide, outnumbering hospitals. The majority of these ASCs are physician-owned, but as ASC care systems evolve, there are more and more hospital and larger healthcare systems getting involved.
Eyeworld (12/01/20) Sheppard, Stephen; McCarville, Robert
Farmers Branch-based Tenet Healthcare is offloading dozens of urgent care centers as it focuses on expanding its ambulatory surgical services. In a deal expected to close in the first quarter of 2021, Tenet will sell 87 of its urgent care centers to FastMed for a $80 million, according to a release from the company.
Dallas Morning News (12/18/20) DiFurio, Dom
After the state's new order to restrict elective invasive procedures prompted confusion and concern among ambulatory surgery centers, an updated version of the guidance appears to settle remaining uncertainty. A memo the state's Executive Office of Health and Human Services issued last Wednesday updating guidelines on non-essential invasive procedures described restrictions only on hospitals, omitting any language referring to ambulatory surgery centers. (12/15/20) Lisinski, Chris
An influx of patients and shortage of health care staff has created a conundrum for hospital administration to solve during the latest leg of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Friday, hospital trustees approved Campbell County Memorial Hospital surgeons to perform surgeries at Powder River Surgery Center, where they are not credentialed for surgery, as needed while the surgical suites in the hospital are occupied by COVID-19 patient overflow.
Sheridan Press (12/15/20)
News summaries © copyright 2020 SmithBucklin

About ASCA

Mission: The Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA) is the national membership association that represents ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) and provides advocacy and resources to assist ASCs in delivering high-quality, cost-effective ambulatory surgery to all the patients they serve.

About Us: At ASCA, we are eager to help you become better acquainted with our nation's ASCs and the people who own and operate them. We are also eager to help you develop policies on ASC-related issues. If you have questions, please contact us. We'll put you in touch with the experts and, if you like, arrange for you to visit an ASC in your area.

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