MedPAC urges SGR repeal, pay cut for hospital doc visits

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) has recommended the scrapping of the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, revising some specific payments for physicians in the hospital setting and encouraging more generic prescriptions, The Hill's Healthwatch reported.

The commission first floated eliminating the SGR, which can cause dramatic dips in physician reimbursement, last autumn. Its March report to Congress recommends freezing current payments for primary care for the next decade. It also suggests cutting specialty payments 5.9 percent over three years and imposing a freeze for the following seven years.

Moreover, MedPAC's report recommends the severing of any connection that links physician spending to payments, reported MedPage Today.

It specifically called on Congress to level rates for physician visits whether they take place in their office or a hospital. The in-hospital visit rate is 80 percent higher and costs Medicare up to $1 billion a year, according to the report.

Additionally, the panel recommended making changes to the Medicare drug subsidy for low-income enrollees in order to encourage more use of generic medications.

"Medicare may be able to reduce program spending without substantially affecting access to needed medications," the report said.

For more information:
- read the Hill's Healthwatch article
- read the Medpage Today article
- check out the MedPAC report (.pdf)