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CardioVascular Coalition Urges Congress to Support Limb Loss Prevention During Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Awareness Month

Sep 3, 2020

Advocates call for policies to block planned specialty provider cuts before January 2021

Washington, DC – The CardioVascular Coalition (CVC), a leading group of providers, physicians, and manufacturers, today urged lawmakers in Congress to support policies to improve peripheral artery disease (PAD) screening, diagnoses and treatment to reduce unnecessary lower limb amputations in recognition of PAD Awareness Month.

Specifically, CVC is asking Congress to advance legislation to block planned Medicare payment cuts to specialty providers in 2021. In the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) Proposed Rule for 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to deeply cut payments to specialty providers – “vascular surgery” by seven percent (-7%), “cardiac surgery,” by nine percent (-9%) and “interventional radiology” by nine percent (-9%).

To mitigate these cuts, Congress must take steps to ensure Medicare waives the budget neutrality requirements for the E/M codes scheduled for implementation on January 1, 2021 in any relevant or upcoming legislation.

“As we recognize PAD Awareness Month this September, we urge policymakers to stop these harmful payment cuts to the specialty providers who screen, diagnose and perform interventional care to prevent limb loss,” said Dr. Jeffrey Carr, founding and past president of the Outpatient Endovascular and Interventional Society (OEIS) and a member of the CVC. “CMS should not proceed with any specialty provider cuts while we are in the middle of a public health crisis. Doing so will be harmful to both vulnerable older Americans and their healthcare providers.”

Bipartisan lawmakers agree. Last month a group of 93 House lawmakers sent a letter to House leadership asking them to waive budget neutrality in any relevant or upcoming legislation for Calendar Years 2021 and 2022 for the E/M codes scheduled for implementation on January 1, 2021.

Further, the CVC applauds efforts supported by the Congressional PAD Caucus, chaired by Congressmen Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL). The CVC is also a member of the PAD Task Force – alongside the Association of Black Cardiologists, Preventative Cardiovascular Nurses Association, Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions and Society of Interventional Radiology – which came together to advance a comprehensive strategy that combines increased public awareness and robust screening with non-amputation treatment measures and multidisciplinary care.

According to estimates, PAD affects nearly 20 million Americans and is responsible for 80 percent of the 200,000 non-traumatic limb amputations that take place in the U.S. each year. These non-traumatic amputations often occur without any diagnostic testing, meaning PAD patients are losing limbs before they receive testing to determine if limb-saving treatments are an option.

PAD is exacerbated by conditions like diabetes, chronic hypertension, and renal disease, which are most prevalent in minority populations. Access to revascularization therapies is especially vital to the African American, Hispanic and Native American populations who are two to four times more likely to undergo a limp amputation due to PAD because of increased prevalence of diabetes, obesity and other risk factors.

To learn more about PAD and PAD Awareness Month, CLICK HERE.

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