House and Senate committees pass SGR bills

December 12, 2013
Area(s) of Interest: Commercial Payors Public Payors 

The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee today passed bills to eliminate the badly broken Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR), which has plagued policymakers and physicians for more than a decade, and replace it with a stable payment system for future generations of physicians and the patients they serve.

This week's committee votes come just before Congress recesses for the holiday, pushing any further action into 2014.

This progress is good news for California physicians, who have been working with both committees to revise the initial draft of the legislation since it was introduced in October. For more than a decade, Medicare’s flawed SGR formula has called for reductions in payments to physicians, despite the rising costs of providing health care. According to the formula, Medicare payments would be cut by roughly 24 percent in 2014, if no action were taken.

Congress has also as part of the federal budget negotiations agreed to a three-month SGR patch that will stop the 24 percent cut that would otherwise take effect January 1, 2014—and replace it with a 0.5 percent payment raise—which will give lawmakers a little more time to finalize the long-term Medicare payment reforms.

Contact: Elizabeth McNeil, (800) 786-4262 or emcneil@cmadocs.org

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