Congress Reveals Bipartisan Proposal to Repeal SGR

As the year begins to draw to a close, the perennial issue of Medicare's sustainable growth rate formula is once again being addressed as a bipartisan, bicameral proposal to repeal the SGR has been revealed.

As the year begins to draw to a close, the perennial issue of Medicare’s sustainable growth rate formula is once again being addressed.

The Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees have put together a proposal to repeal and replace SGR. If the SGR isn’t delayed or repealed entirely, then physicians will be facing nearly a 25% reduction in Medicare payments on Jan. 1.

The new proposal to repeal SGR would maintain physicians’ pay at current levels until an alternative payment model is developed, according to Becker’s Hospital Review. Starting in 2017, physicians would receive additional pay based on performance.

“The AAMC applauds the bipartisan efforts of lawmakers to reform the Medicare reimbursement system and repeal the flawed SGR formula,” Darrell G. Kirch, MD, president and chief executive officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges, said in a statement. “This thoughtful proposal represents progress toward establishing sustainable funding for Medicare physician payments while preserving access for Medicare beneficiaries. We urge Congress to continue this bipartisan approach and find a permanent solution.”

The plan, which holds physicians accountable for quality and resource utilization, has seen wide support from many of the medical associations. Just days before the proposal was released, the American College of Physicians had written a nine-page letter to the Congressional Budget Conference Committee. The letter stated that those in the medical profession were “committed to doing its part to improve quality and lower costs,” but that Congress had to do its part as well.

After the proposal to repeal the SGR was released, the ACP congratulated the committees for developing the bipartisan, bicameral framework.

“We are confident that by working from the foundation created by this discussion draft, this Congress, this year, can achieve a historic bipartisan consensus on legislation to repeal the SGR, once and for all, and create a better Medicare payment system for our members and their patients,” Charles Cutler, MD, FACP, chair of the Board of Regents for the ACP.