How we overcame the SGR hurdle

Robert M. Wah, MD , Former President

How did we get over the SGR hurdle? The short answer is simple: We did it together.

The long answer involves a strenuous, uphill marathon of more than a decade. We physicians all have stories about how the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula’s perennial threats of steep payment cuts created instability for our practices and uncertainty about access to care for our patients who relied on Medicare and TRICARE.

Through the years, we had countless interactions with our lawmakers about this issue and made it clear that Medicare had to be fixed.

And we poured on the steam this year, calling on Congress to seize the opportunity to eliminate the SGR formula through bipartisan legislation introduced in March.


In a five-week sprint that got underway with a formal letter (log in) to Congress signed by more than 750 medical associations, we physicians and our patients used the AMA’s Fix Medicare Now campaign to flood our members of Congress with messages to pass this legislation. Here’s how they heard from us:

  • More than 26,700 social media actions
  • 60,229 phone calls
  • 243,907 emails

This unified effort paid off. We overcame the SGR hurdle with overwhelmingly favorable votes in both chambers of Congress.

While details of how the law will be implemented still need to be figured out (and rest assured that the AMA will diligently press for appropriate execution of the law), we have overcome our chief obstacle and are moving toward a brighter future.

The new era of health care now before us is one of promise. Our patients will have greater stability in their access to care, our practices will be more sustainable, and doors will open for new models of care, improved health outcomes and advanced medical education.

There’s still a lot to do to reach our goals for a healthier nation, but we will achieve them by continuing to work together.

Let’s continue this race and finish it strong.