House Legislation Would Permanently Repeal Sustainable Growth Rate

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Today, U.S. Reps. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) and Joe Heck, DO, (R-Nev.), released the Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act of 2012 — a bill that would permanently repeal the sustainable growth rate formula within the Medicare physician fee schedule.

The SGR is the annual growth rate used to determine physician payments under Medicare. For 11 straight years, Congress has had to issue a temporary SGR fix to prevent massive Medicare cuts to physicians. Last year, Congress averted a 27.4 percent Medicare payment cut to physicians in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012.

The Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act of 2012 would permanently repeal the SGR and prevent the looming 30 percent cuts to physicians from taking place Jan. 1, 2013, and 2012 payment levels would be maintained through Dec. 31, 2013. The more than $300 billion cost associated with an SGR repeal will be offset "using the savings from the reduction in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan," according to the bill's summary.

It also provides an annual positive payment update of 0.5 percent for all physician services each year for four years. Other provisions of the bill include testing of new physician payment and delivery models, as well as gradual increased payment updates for preventive care, care coordination and primary care services.

Several physician groups, including the American College of Physicians, American College of Cardiology and American Academy of Family Physicians, endorsed the bill.

More Articles on the Sustainable Growth Rate:

5 Points to Know on the 2012 Medicare Trustees Report

MedPAC: Hospital Payments Should Increase by 1%

How Slowly is Medicare Spending Growing?

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