On Feb. 6, 2014, Congress introduced the “SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act of 2014.” The bipartisan, bicameral bill would completely repeal Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) payment update mechanism and replace it with “an improved payment system that rewards quality, efficiency and innovation.” Congress has released two identical versions of this bill in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 4015) and the U.S. Senate (S. 2000). ASCP is thrilled with this unprecedented movement toward the repeal of the flawed SGR, which has threatened physician reimbursement and affordable patient care for more than a decade now.
The introduction of this bill follows the introduction of a bipartisan, bicameral legislative framework, which was released by Congress in October 2013. While ASCP reported on the framework’s contents in the November ePolicy issue, we note that the content of the actual legislation somewhat differs. Upon first glance, it appears that Congress was moderately responsive to the concerns addressed in ASCP’s comment letter on the framework (See December ePolicy issue). However, we are currently reviewing the legislation to see if any of our concerns remain. We will report back the details of the bill in the near-term.
Though legislation has previously been introduced by individual Committees in both the House and Senate, this is first time Congress have compromised across the aisle in the development of bipartisan, bicameral SGR repeal legislation. Hence, it is important that Congress move swiftly to leverage this near unanimous support for a long-term solution to a decade-long problem.
Time is especially of the essence for the following additional reasons:
- The Price (of complete SGR Repeal) is Right: The cumulative cost of multiple short-term payment patches ($154 billion) is now increasingly exceeding the cost of permanent SGR repeal ($126 billion).
- The Most Recent Temporary Bail-Out is Set to Expire Soon: The temporary payment patch enacted on Jan. 1 expires on March 31, 2014. Absent legislative action, a 24-percent reduction in Medicare reimbursement rates will apply beginning April 1, 2014.
ASCP STRONGLY ENCOURAGES YOU TO CONTACT CONGRESS AND URGE THEM TO PASS SGR REPEAL LEGISLATION IMMEDIATELY!