Last week Congress passed a 10-month patch to the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula stopping a potentially devastating 27 percent cut in Medicare payments to physicians on March 1 that would have negatively impacted seniors’ access to care and choice of physician. This agreement was part of a larger legislative package tied to the extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits.
This latest agreement is the 14th short term patch to the SGR in the last 10 years. The Patients’ Action Network will continue to urge Congress to once and for all repeal the SGR and stop this terrible cycle that continually threatens seniors access to critical care.
AMA President Peter W. Carmel, MD, issued the following statement:
“The House and Senate conference committee agreement averts a 27 percent cut on March 1, but it represents a serious missed opportunity to permanently replace the flawed Medicare physician payment formula and protect access to care for military families and seniors. People outside of Washington question the logic of spending nearly $20 billion to postpone one cut for a higher cut next year, while increasing the cost of a permanent solution by about another $25 billion.
“Congress had an opportunity to permanently end this problem, which is the sound, fiscally prudent policy choice. We appreciate efforts by members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who publicly supported a framework for a permanent end to this perennial problem. We are deeply disappointed that Congress chose to just do another patch — kicking the can, growing the problem and missing a clear opportunity to protect access to care for patients. Shortly after the coming elections, access to care for seniors and military will again be threatened by an even larger cut, and members of Congress will need to take swift action to end the broken formula.”
Now more than ever, it is critical for grassroots America to remain engaged on this incredibly important issue. Your active participation in calling and emailing your representatives and senators over the last several months and urging Congress to repeal the SGR is helping to build political momentum. With your continued support, we will repeal the flawed SGR and protect patient’s access to care and choice of physician.
Stay tuned for future “calls to action” and legislative alerts.