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Monday, March 17, 2014

DR. BURGESS' SGR REPEAL BILL PASSES U.S. HOUSE

Repeal of Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula passed a huge milestone on Friday when the U.S. House of Representatives voted 238 to 181 to pass H.R. 4015, the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act of 2014. The bill not only repeals the SGR but also guarantees 0.5-percent Medicare increases for physicians for five years, removes potential causes of liability against doctors, and eliminates some bureaucratic red tape that prevents physicians from concentrating on patient care. It pays for the SGR repeal by delaying for five years the Affordable Care Act penalties for individuals who do not purchase health insurance. That has drawn a veto threat from the White House. However, TMA joins with the American Medical Association and bill author Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-Lewisville), in calling for a continuation of the bipartisan, bicameral cooperation that has made SGR repeal an almost-tangible reality this year. “The House has finally declared that we cannot continue to kick the can down the road and patch the SGR each year — we must repeal it, and we did,” Representative Burgess said after the vote. “Please don’t stop here,” said TMA President Steve Brotherton, MD. The Senate is expected to vote on a similar bill — likely with a different method of financing — before the next SGR-driven, 24-percent cut in physicians’ Medicare payments is scheduled to kick in on April 1.

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