Doc groups cheer proposed SGR repeal

Physician groups are for the most part very pleased with a bill approved Tuesday by a Congressional subcommittee to replace Medicare's sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, MedPage Today reported.

"Physicians want to move past the failed SGR formula and toward a Medicare program that supports the best health outcomes for their patients and provides a stable, rewarding practice environment," Dr. Ardis Hoven, president of the American Medical Association, told the media.

In particular, physicians are in favor of the government's plan to provide five years of stable Medicare payments beginning next year, with reimbursements growing 0.5 percent for each year between then and 2018. According to American Medical News, starting in 2019, physicians can choose to report certain quality measures and have traditional fee-for-service payments adjusted with a 1 percent bonus if they perform well against their peers and receive a 1 percent penalty in payments if they don't.

Physicians will have the option at any time to opt out of the fee-for-service system--and related quality-incentive program--in favor of an alternative payment model, such as a patient-centered medical home, accountable care organization or yet-to-be determined model. Physicians who decline to report their quality data or participate in an alternative model will receive a 3 percent cut in payments starting in 2019.

Despite wide support for the bill, as evidenced by nearly 20 letters displayed on the Energy & Commerce Committee's website, Hoven and others have called the proposed legislation a work in progress.

Areas of remaining concern, according to MedPage, include lack of specificity about which organization will determine bonuses and penalties, a lack of extra pay directed toward primary care providers and how lawmakers will pay for the $139 billion repeal of the much-hated SGR.

To learn more:
- read the story from MedPage Today
- see the article from American Medical News
- here's the draft bill (.pdf)

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