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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Senate Shakeup Puts Focus on SGR, Health Insurance Reform

The Democrats’ surprise loss of the late Sen. Teddy Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts left Washington in what-do-we-do-now mode on health system reform. Absent a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, the Obama administration is now reportedly considering a strategy that involves smaller, less-controversial pieces of legislation. We will continue to press representatives and senators to “keep what’s good and fix what’s broken” in our health care systems. TMA-supported health insurance industry reforms — including stronger consumer protections and the prohibition of policies that contain a preexisting condition exclusion — are among those concepts under consideration as stand-alone bills.

The American Medical Association and AARP, meanwhile, launched a television ad campaign urging Congress to rewrite Medicare’s broken Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula before 21-percent cuts in physicians’ Medicare payments begin on March 1. “The Congressional Record is replete with statements by Senators from both sides of the aisle calling for permanent Medicare physician payment reform,” AMA and AARP wrote to House and Senate leaders. “What is missing, however, is action. As the nation’s largest organizations representing physicians and older Americans, we urge you to support passage of legislation to permanently repeal the SGR.” Physicians have until March 17 to make their Medicare participation decisions for 2010. To help you decide, TMA has developed a new Webinar that outlines your choices — and their consequences — and an interactive tool to help you estimate the financial impact of Medicare’s payment changes on your practice.

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