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Monday, February 10, 2014

SGR 1: BIPARTISAN, BICAMERAL REPEAL BILL FILLED

Late last week brought some excellent news from Capitol Hill. The SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act of 2014 (H.R. 4014/S. 2000), was introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Its author is our own U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-Lewisville). It features the handiwork of Rep. Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands). And it has the support of key congressional leaders from both parties and in both chambers. The bill calls for the immediate repeal of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. The irrational cuts mandated by the SGR have hung like an annual albatross around the necks of physicians and Congress for more than a decade. It includes five years of 0.5-percent positive annual payment updates. While it is doubtful these updates will keep up with physicians’ cost of providing care to Medicare patients, the cumulative 2.5-percent update is larger than all of the increases in the past 12 years combined. Since the last versions of SGR repeal introduced in December, H.R. 4014/S. 2000 contains numerous changes requested by TMA and the American Medical Association, including:
  • Significant improvements in the proposed Merit-Based Incentive Payment System, with more funding for positive incentives and less of a down side in penalties;
  • Deleting the repeated opt-out affidavit submissions for physicians who want to contract privately with their Medicare patients; and
  • Requiring that electronic health records be interoperable by 2017.
The new version also retains important language that helps limit the establishment of new causes of action against physicians.

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