SGR deal reached, but funding obstacles ahead

Now that Congress has come to terms on a deal to repeal the much-loathed sustainable growth rate (SGR) payment formula for physicians participating in the Medicare program, it must now figure out how to pay for it. The SGR, introduced in the late 1990s, was actually applied only once about a decade ago, with Congress instead relying on annual "fixes" that essentially kept Medicare payments on an even keel. But doctors face an anticipated 24 percent cut if the government put all the deferred payments into effect, creating even more momentum in Congress to repeal it. Lawmakers reached a deal last week to replace the SGR with an incentive-based program that would focus on improving quality. Experts estimate SGR's repeal could cost anywhere from $153 billion to $245 billion over the next decade. Read the full story at FierceHealthFinance