Dear Member:

Last week the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published the 2011 Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule in the November 2 edition of the Federal Register. As we understand to be correct at this point, sleep medicine physicians – along with physicians in every other medical specialty – will experience reductions to their payments for services provided to patients who are Medicare beneficiaries unless Congress takes action immediately. For sleep physicians, these cuts, which are scheduled to take effect by January 1, 2011, are projected to be approximately 30 percent.   

I – and every member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s leadership – share the concern and frustration of our colleagues: What do these cuts to payment mean for our practice, for the field, and for our patients? The Board of Directors is committed to protecting your professional livelihood, safeguarding the field and ensuring access to quality care for patients. We devoted considerable time at our Board meeting this weekend to discuss the impact of the Final Rule. The AASM is taking action to address the Final Rule; several efforts are currently underway by the AASM leadership and staff and we will introduce more initiatives in the near future.

Staff is conducting a comprehensive review of the Final Rule and will provide members with an analysis very soon. As a starting point, the AASM offers the following summary information, which is reflective of our current interpretation of the information in the Final Rule, so members are aware of general changes to the Physician Fee Schedule:
  • The Final Rule includes a reduction to the conversion factor, from $36.87 in 2010 to $25.52 in 2011.
  • The Final Rule includes changes to values for physician work and practice expense for sleep services.

The Final Rule is complex, as are the issues associated with it. Further, there are several areas within the Final Rule that require clarification. We are contacting CMS regarding these matters and will communicate this information to members when it is available.

The Board of Directors is hosting an emergency meeting the evening of Monday, November 15. Following this meeting, we will release to members a comprehensive action plan that details leadership-led initiatives, resources for members and information for our patients.

Lastly, we need your help. Your engagement – with elected representatives, local media, and your patients – is critical to forcing the Administration and Congress to act on the 2011 Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule. More information on how you and your patients can get involved will be sent to you next week.   

As always, members are encouraged to contact me at or post a question on the 2011 Final Rule discussion forum on the AASM website.


Patrick Strollo, MD