Lawmaker Champions ASCs in Congress

Digital Debut

Lawmaker Champions ASCs in Congress

One-on-one with US Representative Van Duyne (R-TX), cosponsor of the Outpatient Surgery Quality and Access Act of 2023

Beth Van Duyne

Beth Van Duyne

Representative Beth Van Duyne (R-TX) is one of the most vocal supporters of the ASC community in the US House of Representatives. Before joining Congress in 2021, Representative Van Duyne was the mayor of Irving, Texas, and an official at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. In 2023, she became a cosponsor of the Outpatient Surgery Quality and Access Act of 2023 (H.R. 972/S. 312).

In early 2023, Representatives Brad Wenstrup, DPM (R-OH), and John Larson (D-CT) reintroduced the bipartisan, bicameral act in the US House of Representatives, and Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA), introduced the legislation in the US Senate. If enacted, this crucial legislation will slow the widening disparity in Medicare payments between ASCs and hospital outpatient departments by making the hospital market basket the inflationary update factor permanently; add transparency and accessibility for patients trying to research quality metrics; require the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to disclose the reasons procedures are denied reimbursement in the ASC setting; and add an ASC voice to the Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment. Below is an excerpt from an interview with the congresswoman.

Q: You have toured several ASCs in your district. How has your experience been meeting with your constituents at their surgery centers?

Beth Van Duyne (BVD): North Texas is blessed to have an incredible talent pool of physicians, nurses and medical innovators who are operating ASCs at such a high level that we have tremendous patient care options. Visiting multiple locations showed me how North Texans can receive outstanding care at reasonable costs, regardless of what door they walk through. Having this breadth of options shows how competition drives excellence and truly benefits the healthcare services available to the people throughout our region.

Q: Why did you decide to be a cosponsor of the Outpatient Surgery Quality and Access Act of 2023?

BVD: Like so much of my work in Congress, I heard directly from someone I represent who urged me to tour an ASC and talk with them about the opportunities and challenges they face. Signing on to the Outpatient Surgery Quality and Access Act made perfect sense, as it helps level the playing field for medical services by closing the reimbursement gap, eliminating the copay penalties for Medicare beneficiaries, and reducing other barriers standing between patients and affordable, quality care.

I’m a big believer in eliminating unnecessary and overburdening regulations that are getting in the way of healthcare services being delivered at lower costs. ASCs truly help patients have more options and save taxpayers money. From 2011 to 2018, ASCs saved Medicare $28.7 billion and are projected to save an additional $73 billion between 2019 and 2028. Forecasted savings, however, are threatened by problematic Medicare policies that result in continually declining reimbursement and other factors that limit Medicare beneficiaries’ access to outpatient surgical care. Getting rid of these government regulations will always be a priority of mine.

Q: If passed, how do you think this legislation will be able to help ASCs, their patient community and the healthcare system?

BVD: Above all, passage of this important legislation expands access to healthcare, provides patients with greater options and lowers costs by ensuring we have competition, especially for simpler procedures that ASCs can easily handle.

Q: Earlier this year, you introduced the Protecting Healthcare Employee Privacy Act (H.R. 7216). If passed, this legislation would eliminate ASC-20, the quarterly COVID-19 reporting measure, from the ASC Quality Reporting Program. What drove you to introduce this bill?

BVD: After meeting with a local ASC in North Texas, they made me aware of overburdensome vaccine reporting requirements that are unfairly imposed on healthcare personnel employed at ASCs. Once again, the federal government created an onerous reporting mandate that unnecessarily burdens ASC healthcare providers, exacerbates workforce challenges and threatens access to quality care.

I was proud to offer this bill as an amendment to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bill, which passed by voice, to defund this reporting requirement. I look forward to offering it again for FY25.

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, with questions.