House Passes Legislation Tying SGR Fix to Individual Mandate Delay

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The House has passed a bill that would repeal Medicare's sustainable growth rate and delay the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's individual mandate.

captiol buildingEvery year since 2003, Congress has passed a short-term legislative patch to stave off double-digit Medicare pay cuts for physicians under the SGR. The SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act of 2014 is a bipartisan measure that would permanently solve the SGR issue by repealing the formula and replacing it with a payment system that incentivizes physicians to provide high-quality, low-cost care.

However, it seems the bill could be brought down by an amendment added by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.). The amendment would delay the individual mandate's enforcement through 2019 and would increase the number of uninsured people in 2018 by about 13 million people, according to the Congressional Budget Office. This would mean fewer individuals would receive coverage under Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. Furthermore, fewer people would get coverage through the health insurance exchanges and receive federal subsidies to cover their premiums.

The White House has indicated President Barack Obama will veto the legislation if it reaches his desk. The White House Office of Management and Budget issued a statement last week stating the Obama administration strongly opposed House passage of the bill on the grounds that the mandate delay would "increase health insurance premiums, decrease tax credits, increase the number of uninsured and shift costs to businesses, workers, and healthcare providers."

The American Medical Association has also issued a statement on the bill urging Congress not to let partisanship conflict over the PPACA stand in the way of fixing Medicare's physician payment formula. Unless lawmakers enact a permanent solution or another temporary patch, physicians face a 24 percent Medicare pay cut on April 1 under the SGR.

More Articles on the SGR:
Obama Threatens to Veto SGR Bill Delaying PPACA Mandate
AMA Opposes Bill Tying SGR Fix to Individual Mandate Delay
4 Key Statistics on Medicare's SGR 

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