BREAKING NEWS: SGR repeal deal reached

A bipartisan team of U.S. House and Senate negotiators has reached a deal to repeal the unpopular sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, according to MedPageToday.

Under the arrangement, which still requires approval from both chambers, physicians will see a yearly pay raise of 0.5 percent for the next five years according to the article. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the last holdout of six chairmen or ranking members, signed onto the deal late Wednesday, according to Politico.

"These negotiations are never easy, but we fought hard to develop the strongest, most effective policy to protect seniors' access to their doctors, and I'm pleased we have a bipartisan agreement," Upton told Politico. "There is still much work left to do, but I look forward to building on this milestone."

Most of the House GOP Doctors Caucus also endorsed the deal, but are disappointed that it only includes a five-year payment update as opposed to the originally-planned 10 years, caucus co-chair Rep. Phil Gingrey (Ga.) told Politico. "Please don't say we got what we wanted because what we wanted was a 10-year update of a half a percent, which doesn't even keep up with inflation," he said. "They had to bring us kicking and screaming, I guess you could say."

Legislation to repeal the SGR has made its way through both chambers of Congress since last year, clearing the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees, FierceHealthFinance previously reported.

In late January, several former Medicare administrators introduced a proposal to suspend the SGR for five years rather than repeal it outright, FierceHealthcare previously reported. The proposal "could do the first steps of what all of the legislation does, which is provide a known piece of stability for several years and put in place some specific activities to try to move forward with performance metrics," said former Medicare director Gail Wilensky, Ph.D.

To learn more:
- here's the MedPageToday update
- here's the Politico article