News | January 18, 2010

Court Dismisses ACC Suit Opposing Reimbursement Cuts

Jack Lewin, M.D., ACC CEO

January 18, 2010 – A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to prevent drastic reimbursement cuts. The reduction in payments began Jan. 1.

In the suit filed in December, the ACC accused the HHS of violating federal Medicare laws when it based payment reductions for some cardiology services on flawed data. Some cuts are as high as 40 percent. The ACC asked the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to prevent Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from making the cuts. However, Judge William Dimitrouleas denied the ACC’s motions Jan. 12.

“We are deeply disappointed in the judge’s decision not to hear our case based on his opinion that the federal courts do not have jurisdiction to review Medicare physician payment determinations,” said Jack Lewin, M.D., ACC CEO. “What is deeply troubling about today’s ruling is that it sets the precedent that CMS has complete and unchecked control over physician reimbursement for patient care even where its determinations are based on faulty data.”

The 2010 fee schedule from CMS revised the reimbursements for several specialty services, including cardiology. The ACC said the significant pay cuts threaten to harm patients’ access to care.

Lewin said ironically, this rule may increase Medicare costs by shifting cardiologists and their patients to more expensive hospital settings.

Lewin said the ACC is pursuing Congressional legislation and is speaking with legislators about the cuts and the potential issues they may cause in the patient’s access to healthcare.

“Our ongoing campaign for patient access is about making quality cardiovascular care accessible to the millions of Americans who are battling our country’s number one killer, heart disease,” Lewin said. “We will continue to fight on behalf of our patients to protect their access to quality care.”

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