Repeal of Medicare's SGR Makes Headway in House Committee

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The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee has passed a bipartisan proposal that would repeal Medicare's sustainable growth rate.

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.

Legislators on the committee released the draft of the SGR repeal bill Tuesday. Under the bill, the SGR 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. The bill can be read in its entirety here.

Eighteen professional physician societies have sent letters of support for the bill. Many physician-led health systems, like Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., have also voiced their support for the bill. Hospital associations have generally supported repeal of the SGR, but not at the expense of cutting Medicare payments to hospitals to finance the repeal.

The next steps will be a review of the legislation in front of the full committee. The House 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.

More Articles on the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate:
Lawmakers Make Progress Repealing, Replacing Medicare's SGR Formula
CMS Proposes Increased Pay for Physicians Who Manage Chronic Care
House Committees Flesh Out SGR Repeal Bill

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