American College of Surgeons Calls for Elimination of Medicare's Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) Physician Payment Formula

New physician payment model must protect physician-patient relationship, encourage high-quality care and protect patient access to care

WASHINGTON, May 5, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American College of Surgeons (ACS) today called on members of Congress to eliminate the current sustainable growth rate (SGR) Medicare physician payment formula, and transition over the next five years to a new physician payment system that fairly reflects the costs of providing high-quality health care, protecting patient access to the physicians of their choice and preserving the patient-physician relationship. In testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health, ACS Executive Director David Hoyt, M.D., FACS, said the SGR model is a failed system and a long-term solution should be phased in that encourages quality care.

"The current fee-for-service model is unsustainable and any new payment system should be part of an evolutionary process that achieves the ultimate goals of increasing quality for the patient and reducing the growth of health care spending – goals we do not believe are mutually exclusive," said Dr. Hoyt. "The first step towards reforming the Medicare payment formula is to immediately eliminate the SGR and set a realistic budget baseline for future Medicare payment updates, which fairly reflect the costs of providing quality health care, preserving the patient-physician relationship and ensuring patients have continued access to the physician of their choice."

A new payment system could improve quality and reduce costs by aligning coordination and quality of care with financial incentives, rather than paying for each visit or service. ACS is currently reviewing the role of bundled payments for surgical episodes of care with these goals in mind.

"With the right approaches, we can improve the quality of patient care and, at the same time, reduce health care costs," Dr. Hoyt told the committee. "Based on our 100-year experience leading programs from the Committee on Trauma to the Commission on Cancer to the ACS National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP®), we know we can significantly reduce complications and save lives, and that translates into better outcomes, lower costs and greater access."

About the American College of Surgeons
The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and to improve the care of the surgical patient. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America, and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 77,000 members, and it is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. For more information, please visit

SOURCE American College of Surgeons