AAAAI Supports Legislation to Repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate
In mid-March, the AAAAI wrote to House and Senate Committee leaders to support legislation that would permanently repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), the formula used by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to control spending for physician services provided to Medicare beneficiaries. Read the full letter here.
The bill under consideration in March included a number of important physician payment reform provisions including a report on barriers to chronic care services and a provision to increase the availability of Medicare claims data for research to improve the quality of care. However, lawmakers were unable to agree on a source of reductions elsewhere in the budget to pay for the estimated $138 billion cost of the SGR repeal. Instead of a permanent repeal, Congress staved off the 24% reduction that would have occurred on April 1 with another temporary “fix” bill to prevent the cuts. The bill also includes a 0.5% increase in payments to physicians through December 31, 2014, and then freezes reimbursement levels for the first quarter of 2015.
The fundamental position of the AAAAI on this issue is that Medicare payments to physicians should be based on quality and value, not an arbitrary volume-based system. Unfortunately, now that Congress has passed another 12-month delay of the scheduled cuts, little action is expected on this issue until next year.