Nationwide, the number of Medicare-certified outpatient surgery centers grew from 1,000 in 1988 to 6,072 as of March 2022, according to the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association.

And for example, in South Carolina, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control has issued 20 certificates of need for ambulatory surgery centers - eight of them to hospitals - since January 2018, officials said.

"Interest in the (ambulatory surgery center) model has increased steadily over time as advances in pain management, technology, and surgical techniques have allowed more surgical procedures to be performed in the outpatient setting," said Amanda Hawkins, president of the ASCA board of directors and administrator of The Surgery Center of Charleston.

Ambulatory surgery centers are popular among patients for convenience, comfort and quality of care, while physicians appreciate the scheduling efficiencies and the environment for their patients, she said. All stakeholders, including payers, appreciate the cost savings, she said.

On average, reimbursement at ambulatory surgery centers runs about 40 percent less than in hospital settings, said Scott Bacon, vice president of development for Compass Surgical Partners, an independent management and development company headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, that has more than 200 surgery centers nationally.

"ASC reimbursement rates are below those of hospital ORs," he said, "so a primary benefit is reducing the cost of care to the patients, the employers, and the payers in the Upstate."

To read more about ASC's growth, checkout this article.

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