November 30, 2023

ASCs continue to contend with anesthesia provider shortages, inflating costs

Editor's Note

There is a major anesthesia provider shortage that has been and continues to impact ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs), and which is driving up costs, Becker’s ASC Review November 29 reports. Meanwhile, reimbursements from payers are declining, straining ASCs’ ability to provide needed care.

Some highlights from the Becker’s article include: 

  • ASCs are concerned that the cost of anesthesia will limit their ability to do surgeries and remain competitive. 
  • In addition, according to a report from Definitive Healthcare, more than 2,872 anesthesiologists left the workforce from 2021 to 2022, and the Association of American Medical Colleges predicted a shortage of 12,500 anesthesiologists by 2033.
  • Many ASCs are already reeling from these shortages, including the Billings (Montana) Clinic, which had a shortage of 35 or more full-time anesthesiologists post-pandemic. 
  • Two ASCs in Portland, Oregon–Providence Portland Medical Center and Providence St. Vincent Medical Center–plan to restrict surgical procedures offered due to a shortage of anesthesiologists.

Healthcare leaders note that Medicare will have to adjust its low reimbursement for anesthesia cases in order to ensure that outpatient surgeries remain competitive. They remain hopeful that ASCs’ ability to offer steady hours and continuous work will continue to attract anesthesia providers.


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