SGR fix not likely in near-term

Providers holding their breath for a permanent fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula should exhale.

Such a fix is nowhere on the horizon, and providers should once again expect lawmakers to approve the time-honored patch to the formula to ensure physicians don't endure a huge cut in Medicare reimbursement, according to MedPage Today.

The current patch--one in a series of annual fixes to the SGR that usually guarantees a modest pay bump to physicians--expires next month. Physicians face a 21 percent cut in reimbursement if Congress does not take any action.

"I believe ... in March we'll come up with a patch, likely for four to six months, and then come forward with full-scale repeal," said Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) at the recent American Medical Association national advocacy conference, MedPage Today reported. "We all look forward to working together and getting this done, and I'm hopeful we'll be able to do it this year. I don't say [it will be] next month because I want to be careful and honest in conversation. [Our reflex] is to kick the can down the road and that's likely what we'll do in March."

A proposed fix to the SGR died in Congress late last year, and the price of that particular fix has risen from $128 billion over the next decade to $144 billion, according to an updated Congressional Budget Office report

Providers have urged Congress to not merely fixate on the cost of scrapping and replacing the SGR program and take note that some collaborative efforts by providers could be part of the potential solution.

To learn more:
- read the MedPage Today article