AMA News Room
March 5, 2014
State and National Physician Groups Urge Congress to Fix Medicare Now and Repeal the Flawed Sustainable Growth Rate Formula
For immediate release:
March 5, 2014
WASHINGTON - More than 600 organizations today joined the American Medical Association (AMA) to call on Congress to pass legislation to permanently repeal Medicare's flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula and strengthen Medicare for America's seniors. State organizations representing internists, surgeons, cardiologists, oncologists, radiologists, orthopedics and emergency physicians are among the 626 that signed a letter to House and Senate leaders that was released at the AMA's National Advocacy Conference.
The letter praises lawmakers for developing a bipartisan, bicameral agreement for a permanent solution that addresses Medicare's troubled payment system to ensure continued care for America's seniors. The legislation, HR 4015 and S 2000, repeals the flawed SGR formula and establishes a pathway to developing and implementing new health care delivery and payment models to improve the quality and effectiveness of care.
"We are optimistic that our collective voices will make a difference so Congress will end the flawed SGR policy and build a more stable practice environment for doctors and better healthcare for patients," said AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven, M.D. "Congress will never have a better opportunity to eliminate the SGR formula than it does right now. We urge lawmakers to listen and take action before April 1."
The current SGR patch expires on March 31, after which a 24 percent cut in Medicare payments for all physician services will take effect. The looming cuts jeopardize the viability of physician practices and threaten access to care, making the call for passage of the agreement timely and urgent.
"Further reliance on legislative patches is fiscally irresponsible," the letter states. "And the nation can no longer afford to spend taxpayer money on stopgap measures that preserve a bad policy."
To date, Congress has spent $153.7 billion on 16 previous legislative patches to the SGR formula, far more than the Congressional Budget Office's estimate for the cost of permanently reforming the Medicare physician payment system.
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