National ASC Month in Review
ASCA members take advantage of congressional recess by hosting facility tours
BY MAIA KUNKEL | SEPTEMBER 2023
From left: Heath Lemley, MD; Wendy Madden, regional representative, office of Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV); and Mark Mayle, MD, during a tour of the Surgical Eye Center of Morgantown, managed by Regional Eye Associates.
Last month, ASCA members celebrated National ASC Month by hosting their members of Congress and their staff for facility tours during the August congressional recess. Facility tours aim to educate members of Congress, other lawmakers and their staff about the essential role surgery centers play in healthcare and their community. The tours also educate attendees about the issues currently impeding the ability of ASCs to provide care and the provisions of the Outpatient Surgery Quality and Access Act of 2023 that would resolve these difficulties.
In total, ASCA members hosted 10 tours during National ASC Month for members of Congress in the US House of Representatives and US Senate and for state-level lawmakers. The lawmakers across the political spectrum were all eager to learn more about the ASCs in their districts and states and the surgical care that the approximately 6,200 Medicare-certified ASCs provide to millions of patients each year.
Jessica Rodriguez, executive director of OAM Surgery Center at MidTowne in Grand Rapids, Michigan, hosted the staff of new member of Congress Representative Hillary Scholten (D-MI) for a tour of the ASC.
Rodriguez and her team provided the staffers with an overview of the ASC community and discussed the Outpatient Surgery Quality and Access Act, specifically how its provisions would help the facility and ASCs across the country to continue to provide high-quality, lower-cost care. They also explained how the lack of a copay cap for Medicare Part B services affects ASC patients’ access to care, and results in increased costs to Medicare, its beneficiaries and taxpayers. The facility provided the staff with ASCA materials to help aid the discussion and data points on patient and state savings.
Heartland Surgery Center in Kearney, Nebraska, hosted Representative Adrian Smith (R-NE) for a tour of its facility. This was not the first time the congressman toured the center, said Tracy Hoeft-Hoffman, administrator, and the meeting offered her the opportunity to reacquaint the congressman with the facility and show him the new addition being built, which will further expand medical offerings to the community. During the tour, Hoeft-Hoffman discussed the easy access most surgery centers offer patients, the taxes ASCs pay that nonprofit hospital outpatient departments (HOPD) do not and the funding for graduate medical education that the facility offers.
In late August, Regional Eye Associates hosted the staff of Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) at its surgery center, Surgical Eye Center of Morgantown (SEC) in Morgantown, West Virginia. Heath Lemley, MD, Mark Mayle, MD, and Loria Helmick, director of SEC, led the tour and discussed the savings patients enjoy at their ASC versus an HOPD, resulting in millions of dollars in savings for both patients and payers.
“It was an eye-opening experience for our visitor in that we were able to discuss the need for support of the Outpatient Surgery Quality and Access Act,” Helmick said. “We feel that there needs to be greater support for ASCs across the nation. Lawmakers need greater insight on the true abilities of an ASC setting for patient care. We highlighted quality, efficiencies, higher patient satisfaction, more personalized care, more predictable scheduling, excellent patient outcomes, highly qualified surgeons, highly trained clinical staff and less costly service.”
While National ASC Month has ended, ASCA continues to advocate for ASCs and the Outpatient Surgery Quality and Access Act. You can help gain further support for this legislation by using ASCA’s template letters to reach out to your members of Congress and urge them to become cosponsors.
ASCA members interested in hosting a facility tour for their members of Congress can complete the Facility Tour Interest Form or visit ASCA’s facility tour webpage for more information.
Write Maia Kunkel, ASCA’s Government Affairs manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.