Time for the Florida Senate to Deliver Surgical Savings to Floridians

Dec 07, 2017 at 02:40 am by Staff

Fraser Cobbe

Orange County Medical Society

Seminole County Medical Society

There was terrific news resonating from Tallahassee earlier this week as the Senate Health Policy Committee unanimously approved SB 250, Ambulatory Surgical Centers. Our hope is that 2018 is finally the year that the Senate will deliver much needed savings and expanded access to surgical services in our state.

Senate Bill 250, sponsored by Senator Greg Steube, is an effort to afford Floridians the same access to Ambulatory Surgery Centers as articulated by the Federal Regulations from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and enjoyed by citizens in 37 states across the country. The bill simply allows patients to stay in an Ambulatory Surgery Center for 24 hours from the start of a surgical procedure.

Current Florida law limits patients from staying in an ASC beyond midnight. This arbitrary deadline dictated by the clock rather than clinical considerations means that patients have decreased access to these facilities. Furthermore, it can severely compromise care if recovery from surgery is either expedited or a transfer to a hospital is necessitated due to the clock ticking closer to midnight.

Millions of procedures are performed each year in Surgery Centers across Florida and they have a proven track record of quality and significant cost savings. There is no doubt they are a more convenient and lower cost setting for patients and those businesses that provide coverage for their employees.

This week Becker's ASC Review reported on a study conducted by researchers at Texas A&M University that found that ASCs significantly out perform Hospital Outpatient Departments when it comes to rates of readmissions. ASCs had a readmission rate of 8.41 per 1,000 outpatient procedures compared to 21 per 1,000 outpatient procedures at HOPDs. Certainly physicians may be performing more challenging cases in the HOPD setting, but given their quality record we should be knocking down barriers for patients to use the ASC setting when appropriate.

The cost savings of ASCs cannot be understated. A study produced by Physicians Advocacy Institute and Avalere found that when comparing four cardiology, orthopedic and gastroenterology services, "Medicare paid $2.7 billion more for services performed in the hospital outpatient setting than physician office or independent ASC."

Our organizations applaud Senator Steube and the Senate Health Policy Committee for moving this legislation forward. The House of Representatives has been steadfast in their support of this legislation over the years. Speaker of the House, Richard Corcoran, has publicly stated this legislation is a priority this session being led by the efforts of bill sponsors, Representative Paul Renner and Heather Fitzenhagen.

It is time for Florida to catch up to the rest of the country and deliver high quality and low cost surgical services to our patients. Here's hoping that 2018 is finally the year.