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SGR resolution within reach

Delay for scheduled January cut is included in the budget legislation passed by the House

Things are looking up for physicians fighting to get their payments from Medicare stable.

Late last week, within the budget legislation approved by the House, was a three-month delay of the Medicare pay cut physicians were facing effective Jan. 1. The budget legislation still needs to be approved by the Senate, which media outlets are reporting is likely.

[See also: Doctors continue to push for SGR repeal.]

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Also last week, the House Ways and Means Committee unanimously passed H.R. 2810, a bill to repeal the sustainable growth rate formula altogether, and the Senate Finance Committee followed suit on a similar measure later the same day.

“The time has come for the temporary patches and trend of uncertainty to end. Now Congress must move a permanent repeal of the SGR physician payment formula, which will bring security to providers and the millions of seniors who rely on Medicare for their healthcare,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp said in his opening statement for the markup of H.R. 2810.

"Today's strong, bipartisan votes by the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees, following similar action last July by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, shows that there is overwhelming, bipartisan support for ending SGR in a fiscally responsible manner and closing the book on the annual cycle of draconian Medicare physician payment cuts and short-term patches,” American Medical Association President Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, said in a prepared statement.

The decisions also come in the wake of the Congressional Budget Office’s announcement on Dec. 6 that the estimated cost for a permanent fix to the current, oft-considered “flawed” SGR is cheaper than anticipated, ringing in at an estimated 10-year cost of $116.5 billion instead of the $139.1 billion quoted in February.

In his opening remarks regarding the bill put before the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) assured lawmakers that an entire SGR repeal would absolutely be affordable: “Let me say it in no uncertain terms: This bill will be offset. Period.”

This story is based on a report appearing on Medical Practice Insider.