Transparent, Bipartisan SGR Reform Effort Will Help Seniors and Doctors

September 9, 2013

As Congress reconvenes, NPR and the Dallas Morning News highlight the positive, bipartisan work by the Energy and Commerce Committee to transform the Medicare physician payment system by repealing the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) and replacing it with a fair and stable system of payments that promotes the highest quality of care for America’s seniors. NPR explains it as “a system that would pay doctors based on how healthy they keep their patients.” The Dallas Morning News editorial board adds, “The key part is the measure would give physicians incentives to offer quality service and do their work efficiently.” The Energy and Commerce Committee passed H.R. 2810, the Medicare Patient Access and Quality Improvement Act of 2013, on July 31 by a vote of 51-0. 


September 6, 2013

After A Decade, Congress Moves To Fix Doctors’ Medicare Pay

Hear the words health care and Congress, and you think fight, right?

And you'd be forgiven, particularly because the House has now voted some 40 times in the past two years to repeal or otherwise undo portions of the Affordable Care Act.

But something unusual happened just before Congress left for its summer break. The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 51-0 for a bill that would overhaul the way Medicare pays doctors.

The bill would, among other things, repeal something called the sustainable growth rate formula, or SGR, and eventually replace it with a system that would pay doctors based on how healthy they keep their patients.

The current formula has threatened to cut physician pay, often by double-digit rates, for each of the past dozen years.

"Since its passage in 1997, SGR has bred uncertainty and frustration," said Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., during the panel's consideration of the bill. "Doctors have been forced to endure eleventh-hour fixes, sometimes on a monthly basis, which clearly have stymied physicians' abilities to run their practices." …

Read the entire story online here.

Listen to the story online here.


September 8, 2013

EDITORIAL: Rep. Burgess’ plan to better pay Medicare physicians

Often, it seems like Washington can never get things done. Problems fester while solutions remain elusive.

But to his credit, Dr. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, has defied the odds. The House member has found a bipartisan way to fix the way Medicare reimburses physicians.

Before you tune this out as C-Span fare, remember that whatever formula Medicare uses affects whether seniors will have enough doctors to choose from as they seek care. And Congress’ seemingly eternal inability to find a sustainable formula contributes to Medicare’s financial struggles. Those problems affect families and taxpayers alike.

The way the payment system now works is Congress approves a formula that usually leads to cuts in reimbursements. Next, doctors squawk. Soon, legislators relent, not wanting doctors to leave Medicare en masse.

Washington goes through this song and dance almost yearly, putting patches on the formula but never fixing the system. Here, though, is where Burgess comes in.

He recently got his reform of the payment system through the House Energy and Commerce Committee with support from Democrats and Republicans. In fact, the committee approved HB 2810 by a 51-0 vote in late July. (You don’t read sentences like that very often these days.) …

Read the complete editorial online here.

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