Med PAC reiterates call for lawmakers to repeal SGR
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.