AHA voices support for permanent 'doc fix' bill

Republican and Democratic leaders have introduced legislation to permanently replace the flawed sustainable growth rate formula, and the American Hospital Association has urged the House of Representatives to pass it.

The total cost of the legislation is about $210 billion. Approximately $70 billion of the total cost would be offset by reductions to payments to providers, such as hospitals and insurers, and through structural changes to the Medicare program.

"While we are disappointed that hospitals would be looked to as an offset given that Medicare already pays less than the cost of delivering services to beneficiaries, the package strikes a careful balance in the way it funds the SGR repeal and embraces a number of structural reforms to the Medicare program," wrote Rich Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the AHA, in a letter to members of the House. In his letter, Mr. Umbdenstock encouraged the House to pass the legislation.

The current SGR patch expires March 31. If congressional action isn't taken by the expiration date, physicians will see a 21 percent cut to their Medicare payments April 1.

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