Beyond SGR reform
Docs urge broad approach to payment changes
Congress should apply a multifaceted approach to improve the Medicare physician payment system that goes well beyond repealing the contentious sustainable growth-rate formula, medical groups and physician leaders testified last week.
At a House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing on May 5, a panel of witnesses presented legislators with their ideas on how to change the way Medicare pays physicians. Currently, the system relies on the sustainable growth-rate formula, which was enacted in 1997 to determine physician payment updates in Medicare Part B.
Just maintaining the current system without any updates until 2020 would cost $278 billion, said Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), chairman of the health subcommittee.
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the full committee, said that while Congress can’t afford the current rate of spending in physician services, it recognizes the pending 29.4% fee cut to physicians—scheduled for Jan. 1, 2012, to bring rates in line with the SGR formula—will force doctors out of the