(L. to r.) Congressman James McGovern sat down with Dr. Stephen Hoenig, Mangrove Management Partners CEO Mark Rowe, and Dr. Sebastian DiDato at The Vascular Care Group in Leominster in December to discuss concerns over Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services cuts and how they can affect patient care. (COURTESY THE VASCULAR CARE GROUP)
LEOMINSTER — U.S. Rep. James McGovern visited The Vascular Care Group in December to listen to staff concerns about the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently announcing cuts to various sub-specialties, including vascular care.
“As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise, these cuts will only further the strain on health care systems as patients delay preventative care and arrive in already overloaded emergency rooms,” said Dr. Stephen Hoenig, lead physician at The Vascular Care Group.
Hoenig is a longtime vascular surgeon and founding member of the practice group. He said that ultimately the cuts “disproportionately impact independent physician practices who care for patients with critical, life-threatening conditions.”
“On average, a procedure done at my office is about 28% less than what’s billed at a large health care system,” he said. “Thus, to further cut us when we are already helping to keep costs down is hard. This, in turn, could ultimately limit the number of services available to patients and largely impact disadvantaged communities.”
Congressman James McGovern (l.) visited The Vascular Care Group in Leominster in December and spoke with staff about concerns over Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services cuts, including Dr. Sebastian DiDato, Dr. Stephen Hoenig, and Mangrove Management Partners CEO Mark Rowe. (COURTESY THE VASCULAR CARE GROUP)
Hoenig and his colleagues at the center invited McGovern to visit to discuss the pressing issue and ask for his help when it comes to lessening the impact of the cuts.
“It was an important step in ensuring representatives understand the impact of the (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) cuts and work to make changes that will protect patients,” Hoenig said. “Congressman McGovern listened intently, he clearly understands the challenges and we certainly hope that by being here he can help bring further action to stem the cuts. Efforts are underway in Congress now and hopefully he can advocate on this matter, which I believe he will do and for which I’m grateful.”
“It was wonderful to meet with Dr. Hoenig and his team, who are bringing state-of-the-art vascular care to the greater Leominster area,” McGovern said. “I admired their dedication to innovative patient care and their commitment to our community hospitals, and I will continue to advocate for fair Medicare reimbursement rates for the critical services provided to patients by Dr. Hoenig and other surgeons throughout the Second District.”
The team at The Vascular Care Group provides state-of-the-art outpatient care, making peripheral vascular and venous treatments more convenient and patient-centric.
“This practice is playing an increasingly important role in minimizing strain on larger health systems and reducing the cost of care for patients who do not require treatment in a hospital,” Hoenig said. “Patients without access to good care, or those who ignore their symptoms, will suffer from life-threatening issues that could result in limb removal or even death.”
When it comes to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services cuts, the surgeon said some endovascular procedure codes are being cut by up to 20%.
“There’s legislation in Congress now that would limit those cuts to single digits, which seems to be a best-case scenario at this stage, which is unfortunate,” Hoenig said. “My practice is a member of the CardioVascular Coalition, and we are working with them and the medical societies in order to inform Congress about the importance of withholding theses cuts as it is in the best interests of patients and physicians.”
Hoenig said “it was a pleasure” having McGovern at their Leominster center, one of nine locations across the state, and “being able to show him first-hand how I, my team, and my partners are trying to change the paradigm of the delivery of care helped to put into perspective how we can provide better outcomes and patient experiences at a lower cost.”
“Congressman McGovern truly listened to us, spent time with our team and patients, and I thank him very much for being an advocate on Capitol Hill during a time when Medicare continues to put pressure on reimbursements for surgical procedures in office-based settings,” Hoenig said.
He went on to say that he appreciates that McGovern “took a particular interest” in getting to know him and his staff “and to truly understand what we do.”
“A lot of physicians across the country are making noise about this, but (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) will sometimes only respond if forced to by Congress,” Hoenig said. “What I truly hope Congressman McGovern can help further champion is fundamental change so this year-after-year cycle of proposed cuts by (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services), followed by intense lobbying, followed by Congressional intervention can eventually result in something more predictable over longer periods of time.”