WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: Support Building for Bipartisan Medicare Physician Payment Reform Effort

July 23, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – This afternoon, the Subcommittee on Health approved an advanced legislative framework to transform the Medicare physician payment system. The bill repeals the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) system and replaces it with a fair, stable, and simplified system of payments. Instead of looming annual cuts, physicians will be rewarded for the quality of care they provide to America’s seniors. The draft legislation is the result of a transparent, bipartisan process that sought input from expert medical organizations and other groups on the development and selection of quality measures. The bipartisan proposal also provides additional avenues for development of new payment and care delivery models.

In addition to today’s subcommittee vote, momentum continues to build in support of the bipartisan effort. A sampling of the support for the bipartisan draft legislation is provided below:

Rep. Phil Gingrey, M.D. (R-GA), Co-Chairman of the GOP Doctors Caucus
“I’m encouraged by the progress being made towards repealing and replacing the flawed Medicare physician payment formula. This is a critical step towards enacting a fiscally-responsible, permanent solution that promotes quality care while providing physicians with stability and security.”

Rep. Joe Heck, D.O. (R-NV), osteopathic physician who previously introduced legislation addressing the SGR
“There is no greater threat to the long-term solvency of Medicare and seniors' access to health care than the broken Medicare payment system, or SGR. I am encouraged by the committee’s willingness to address this difficult issue and move towards a payment model that will provide both health care providers and our seniors who rely on Medicare with the certainty they need. I look forward to working with the committee as we work to address this critical issue.”

Rep. Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN), Member of the GOP Doctors Caucus and former cartiothoracic surgeon 
“I applaud the work of Energy and Commerce Committee on another critical step forward in a transparent and bipartisan process to reform our broken Medicare physician payment system. The current system is not working and is unfair to seniors and their physicians. The reforms in the draft legislation are vital to ensuring seniors have access to predictable, quality care and that physicians are afforded necessary certainty. I look forward to continue open discussion on how we can improve this legislation.”

Alliance of Specialty Medicine
“In recognition of your ongoing, bipartisan efforts, the Alliance of Specialty Medicine (Alliance) strongly supports your effort to repeal and replace Medicare's sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula and looks forward to working with the Committee to further refine the legislation.”

American Academy of Family Physicians
“This proposed legislation abolishes a formula that has, for a decade, threatened to slash payment for medical services and has destabilized elderly patients’ health security. Moreover, it calls for an annual increase in payment over the next five years, enabling physicians to make long-term plans that are essential to making their practices more patient centered. Together, these provisions set the stage for reforms that will build on the patient-centered medical home and strengthen the comprehensive, preventive, coordinated and accessible care our country’s needs.”

American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
“As Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) providing 34 million anesthetics annually, our primary interest is in patient safety and access to cost-effective healthcare. We support the bill’s provisions replacing the damaging SGR formula with a positive 0.5 percent Part B update for each of the next five years as refinements to quality measurement incentive systems and alternative payment systems are developed through open and publicly accountable processes. These payment adjustments are particularly important since the 2013 budget sequestration has taken 2.0 percent from this year’s Part B payments and the SGR threatens additional 24 percent cuts beginning January 2014. We also thank the Committee for accepting our evidence-based recommendation that quality measures, quality reporting and incentive payment systems treat CRNAs the same as physicians when the same service is provided.”

American College of Physicians
“First, ACP is tremendously pleased that the Committee has included positive and stable baseline updates for all physicians during a transition phase of five years. This sustained period of stability is needed to ensure access to care, while allowing time for Medicare to work with physicians and other key stakeholders to test, disseminate, and prepare for adoption of a new quality incentive update program and more patient-centered alternative payment and delivery models.”

American Osteopathic Association
“The AOA is encouraged by recent progress made by the Energy and Commerce Committee in developing a proposal that addresses many of the problems with the current payment system, and appreciates the opportunities to provide physician feedback and the transparent process used in developing each iteration of the draft legislation.”

National Committee for Quality Assurance
“NCQA is pleased that Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle have included our programs in their framework. These programs are great for the patient, and it is gratifying to see them incorporated into Medicare as part of an initiative to help the health care system deliver better value.”

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons
“Your bipartisan legislative draft makes incredible strides towards developing such an infrastructure through its focus on the utility of clinical registries. We are particularly grateful that the July 18th draft allows certain qualified clinical registries to access Medicare administrative claims data in order to execute the reforms articulated in this proposal.”

To see a complete list of organization letters and statements on the committee’s efforts, click here.