Providers band together to repeal SGR Medicare cuts

More than 100 state and specialty medical societies, including the American Medical Association, this week urged Congress to repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula and find a long-term solution to the 27 percent Medicare cut to hit physicians in the new year.

In their letter to the Senate Finance Committee Monday, AMA and provider groups called the SGR formula an "enormous impediment to successful healthcare delivery, stating that the average payments under the SGR formula will remain stagnant for more than 10 years.

"Physicians facing the constant specter of severe cuts under the SGR cannot invest their time, energy and resources in care redesign," they wrote. "The first step in moving to a higher performing Medicare program must be the elimination of the SGR formula. The status quo is bad for patients, physicians and taxpayers," they said.

Medicare is slated to cut 27 percent of physician payments on Jan. 1, 2013. Critics of the planned Medicare reductions noted Congress has offered a series last-minute short-term fixes and call for a more permanent solution, Health Care Daily Report on Bloomberg BNA reported.

"Congress must stop this vicious cycle now so that a transitional framework can be put in place that will provide some stability and predictability for seniors and physicians, along with needed delivery innovations," the physician groups said.

In calling for the repeal, providers encouraged Medicare to look to other payment structures, such as patient-centered medical homes, accountable care organizations and other bundled arrangements.

Capitol Hill Republicans and Democrats yesterday said a doc fix deal could be reached by the end of the year, Politico Pro reported.

According to data from the Congressional Budget Office in August, repealing or continuing to override the pay cuts scheduled to hit providers come with a multimillion-dollar price tag. Blocking the cuts and maintaining current payment rates from now through 2022 would cost an additional $271 billion, the CBO noted.

For more information:
- check out the letter (.pdf)
- see the Health Care Daily Report article on Bloomberg BNA
- read the Politico Pro article (subscription required)

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