House passes SGR reform, now heads for Senate vote

March 26, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Licensing & Regulatory Issues Payor Issues and Reimbursement Public Payors 

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal the Medicare sustainable grow rate (SGR) and to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two years, then sent it to the Senate for a vote. A 21 percent reduction in Medicare provider reimbursement could go into effect on April 1 if the Senate fails to pass a bill or extends the SGR. The House passed the bill with a 392-37 vote.

The legislation, H.R. 2, known as the “The Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act,” will reform the broken Medicare SGR physician payment system and extend the expiring Children’s Health Insurance Program. Both of these important reforms will help to improve access to doctors in California for five million seniors on Medicare, one million military families on TriCare and the nearly one million uninsured children currently covered by CHIP.

“It is imperative that the House AND the Senate act before the 21 percent SGR Medicare payment cut takes effect on March 31,” said Luther Cobb, M.D., California Medical Association (CMA) president. “A drastic cut to physician payments will result in decreased access to care for some of our country’s most vulnerable patients. It’s crucial to the success of our health care delivery system that the bill passes before Congress goes home.”

The SGR legislation is nearly identical to the bipartisan, bicameral Medicare physician payment reform package that three Congressional committees unanimously approved in the last Congress and more than 750 state and national physician organizations, including CMA, supported.

There are more than 1,000 new Medicare enrollees every day in California, yet many physicians are no longer accepting new Medicare patients.

“California desperately needs payment reform to improve access to physicians because Medicare influences all public and private health insurance,” added Dr. Cobb. “Patients are experiencing access to care problems all across the state and H.R. 2 will help alleviate some of that.”

With the new bipartisan agreement between House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on how to fund the SGR fix, CMA is calling on Congress to immediately pass this monumental, fiscally responsible legislative achievement that will lead to meaningful improvements in our health care system.

We've never been this close – let's make sure SGR reform finally gets across the finish line by contacting Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein through every means available and asking them to pass H.R. 2! You can call them on the American Medical Association’s toll-free Grassroots Hotline: (800) 833-6354. Send an urgent email to them reinforcing the need for SGR repeal now or contact them through their own social media channels and share with your own Facebook friends and Twitter followers as well.

This is urgent. There is still time for the Senate to pass meaningful SGR reform before the deadline, but it has to act now!


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