Med PAC re­it­er­ates call for law­mak­ers to repeal SGR

Modern Healthcare - - LATE NEWS -

The Medi­care Pay­ment Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion re­it­er­ated its po­si­tion from last fall that fed­eral law­mak­ers should repeal Medi­care’s sus­tain­able growthrate for­mula and re­place it with 10 years of statu­tory fee-sched­ule up­dates. That course of ac­tion would in­clude a freeze in cur­rent pay­ment lev­els for pri­mary care, and, for all other ser­vices, re­duc­tions of 5.9% for three years, fol­lowed by a freeze. Med PAC’S an­nual March re­port con­tained a let­ter to fed­eral law­mak­ers last Oct. 14 sug­gest­ing a host of ways to pay for re­peal­ing the SGR, such as ap­ply­ing an ex­cise tax to Medi­gap plans, re­bas­ing pay­ments to skilled-nurs­ing fa­cil­i­ties and ap­ply­ing a read­mis­sion pol­icy to skilled-nurs­ing fa­cil­i­ties, home health agen­cies, long-term, acute-care hos­pi­tals and in­pa­tient re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ser­vices. Mark Miller, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor at Med PAC, told re­porters that he is “not aware of any leg­is­la­tion” cur­rently on Capi­tol Hill that aligns with the com­mis­sion’s rec­om­men­da­tions. “On the one hand, peo­ple are very frus­trated with the Congress,” Miller said, for not re­plac­ing the cur­rent for­mula Medi­care uses to re­im­burse physi­cians. Law­mak­ers have in­stead re­sorted to a cy­cle of last-minute patches to avert deep pay cuts. “But as long as the cost of the ac­tion is $300 bil­lion, they’ve got to fig­ure out how they’re go­ing to fi­nance it,” Miller said. The re­port to Congress de­liv­ers rec­om­men­da­tions on Medi­care pay­ment pol­icy that Med PAC’S com­mis­sion­ers agreed to in Jan­uary, such as a 1% pay­ment in­crease in pay­ment rates to the in­pa­tient and out­pa­tient prospec­tive pay­ments sys­tems for 2013.

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