The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) approved a recommendation that ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) receive a 0% increase in payment rates for 2016. The commission once again approved a recommendation that ASCs be directed to report cost data.

MedPAC recommended a 3.25% increase in payment rates for outpatient and inpatient hospital services in 2016.

ASC Association (ASCA) Chief Executive Officer Bill Prentice denounced the ASC recommendation and stated MedPAC’s decision not to recommend any payment update for ASCs in 2016 threatens to undermine the ability of thousands of ASCs to continue saving the Medicare system billions of dollars by their existence as an alternate site for outpatient surgical care.

“Once again, the commissioners suggest that Medicare penalize the most efficient care provider in this market,” Prentice continued. “As ASCs strive every day to provide the highest possible levels of quality and patient safety to Medicare beneficiaries, MedPAC seeks to hamstring those efforts with this recommendation, letting ASC rates fall even farther behind those of other sites of service.”

As part of ASCA’s efforts to educate MedPAC, ASCA staff members met with MedPAC staff members last summer. Although they continue to disagree on areas such as cost reporting, MedPAC staff members have, in recent years, been more receptive to other issues facing ASCs such as a volume shift back to the hospital outpatient department setting as well as a more streamlined process for moving procedures to the ASC payable list, according to the ASC Association.

MedPAC also recommended that Congress reduce or eliminate payment differences between hospital outpatient departments and physician offices for selected procedures. The commission also voted to approve recommendations that would freeze Medicare payments to physicians in 2016 in place of the sustainable growth rate formula.