AMA to Congress: Repeal Medicare SGR by End of Year

Physician leaders at the American Medical Association's interim meeting of its House of Delegates have called for Congress to repeal Medicare's physician payment formula, the sustainable growth rate, by the year's end.

"The AMA has heard the nation's physicians, and we're pulling out the stops to get Congress to act and take a fiscally responsible course that will stop the annual cycle of draconian Medicare cuts and short-term patches," said AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, in a news release.

The SGR formula — adopted as part of a 1997 deficit reduction law — is set to reduce physician payment by nearly 25 percent Jan. 1. However, every year since 2003, Congress has temporarily bypassed the SGR so physicians would not have to endure double-digit cuts to their Medicare pay. Providers and policymakers have sought a permanent fix for the formula.

In October, the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees issued a proposal that would repeal and replace the SGR. The new proposal would repeal the SGR and maintain physicians' pay at current levels while alternative payment models are developed. Starting in 2017, the plan involves an initiative under which physicians would receive additional pay based on their performance.

The policy also includes a process to ensure accurate payments, introduce physician-developed guidelines for inappropriate care and reward care coordination.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a similar proposal this past summer. The House legislation would get rid of the SGR as of next year, and physicians would receive a 0.5 percent increase in Medicare reimbursements every year until 2018, after which they would receive payments based on quality reporting and outcomes. Starting in 2019, physicians could gain or lose 1 percent of their Medicare payments, depending on their quality scores.

More Articles on Medicare Physician Payments:
Fitch: Hospitals in States Not Expanding Medicaid Face Dire Financial Fate
CBO: Bill Repealing Medicare SGR Would Cost $175B
AMA President: Permanent Medicare SGR Fix Could Come This Year 

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