The first ASC was established in Phoenix, Arizona in 1970 by two physicians who wanted to provide timely, convenient and comfortable surgical services to patients in their community, avoiding more impersonal venues like regular hospitals.

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Health care professionals and government officials begin calling for affordable, accessible outpatient surgery alternatives that can continue to deliver top-quality patient care.

1966-67 –Facilities dedicated to providing ambulatory surgical care open in conjunction with hospitals in California and Washington, D.C.

1968– Wallace Reed, MD, and John Ford, MD, commit their idea for a freestanding ambulatory surgery facility to paper for the first time and develop objectives for the facility. They begin collecting endorsements from the governmental bodies and members of the health care community they need to obtain financing for the project.


1970 – Reed's and Ford’s idea becomes reality on February 12 when Surgicenter, the nation’s first freestanding ambulatory surgery facility, opens for business. Five physicians perform five procedures at the facility that day. Four of those procedures require general anesthesia.

Early 1970’s – A small number of other ASCs open throughout the United States.

1971– The American Medical Association adopts a resolution endorsing the concept of outpatient surgery under general and local anesthesia for selected procedures and selected patients.

1973 – The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) establishes some of the first standards for the industry when it releases “Guidelines for Ambulatory Surgical Facilities,” a list of nine criteria approved by the ASA House of Delegates.

1975-76 – Rapid growth. A total of 42 surgery centers were in operation in the United States by 1975 and an additional 25 facilities opened in 1976.

1979 – The industry continues to grow with the number of ASCs reaching triple digits.


1982– Medicare approves payment to ASCs for approximately 200 procedures, which are placed in one of four payment groups with payment rates of between $231 and $336, based upon a cost survey of 40 ASCs.

1987 – Medicare modified the ASC list to use specific CPT codes and expanded the list to include 1,535 procedures.

1988– A mile marker is reached—the number of ASCs in the United States reaches 1,000. Using the information from a 1986 cost survey of ASCs, Medicare implements a new payment system for ASCs, which remains the basis for ASC payments today.

Today, Medicare beneficiaries can have more than 3,500 different procedures performed in an ASC. Medicare beneficiaries receive approximately 30% of the care provided in ASCs.


1995 – Medicare expands the ASC list to cover more than 2,000 procedures.


2002– 78 individuals earn the CASC credential, the first-ever ASC-specific credential, establishing the ASC administrator as a separate and distinct career from other health care management and clinical positions.

2011 – More than 5,300 ASCs in the United States perform 23 million surgeries annually. Medicare grants approval for ASCs to perform more than 3,500 procedures.


ASCs – A Positive Trend in Health Care

An Analysis of Recent Growth of ASCs