AMA President: Permanent Medicare SGR Fix Could Come This Year

Congress seems prepared to fix Medicare's sustainable growth rate permanently this year, American Medical Association President Ardis Hoven, MD, told Kaiser Health News.

The SGR is the formula Medicare uses to determine reimbursements to physicians. Every year since 2003, Congress has temporarily bypassed the SGR so physicians would not have to endure double-digit cuts to their Medicare pay.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee recently approved a bipartisan proposal that would repeal the SGR. Under the bill, the formula would be no more starting next year, and physicians would receive a 0.5 percent increase in Medicare reimbursements every year until 2018. In 2019, physicians would be paid based on quality reporting and outcomes instead of calculated cuts or increases. Physicians could gain or lose 1 percent of their Medicare payments, depending on their quality scores, starting in 2019.

Lawmakers must also figure out how to fund the repeal, which is estimated to cost $138 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Dr. Hoven told Kaiser the committee's approval of the bill before the August break and the widespread bipartisan support for fixing the SGR in both chambers indicate there's a good possibility lawmakers will enact a permanent fix instead of another short-term one.

More Articles on the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate:
House Committee Approves Medicare Physician Pay Reform Bill
Repeal of Medicare's SGR Makes Headway in House Committee
House Committees Flesh Out SGR Repeal Bill 

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