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Monday, February 6, 2012


Negotiators from both parties and both chambers of Congress are now publicly proclaiming the time has come to replace Medicare’s faulty Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula and halt the 27.4-percent cut in physicians’ Medicare pay that’s scheduled for March 1. The question, as usual, is how to pay for it. “We know fewer and fewer doctors can afford to see our Medicare patients,” U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands) said after meeting with Harris County Medical Society and TMA leaders. “In fact, fewer and fewer doctors can afford to run a practice with these uncertain payments. So what I’m looking for today is the ammunition to take back to Washington.” TMA Board Chair Tom Garcia, MD, and chief lobbyist Darren Whitehurst were among those who spoke with Congressman Brady in Houston. Funds that had been projected to be spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan appear to be the best source of financing the nearly $300 billion cost of eliminating the SGR. The negotiators, who also are working on plans to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits, are less than unanimous on that approach. And some are saying it might violate congressional budget rules.

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