Lawmakers Thursday unveiled a bipartisan bill to eliminate the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, with only days left before the current physician payment patch expires on March 31.

The bill, H.R. 1470 and S. 810, is an updated version of the policies set forth in last year’s bipartisan, bicameral Medicare payment reform bill. U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., are working together to finalize the offset package. The House is expected to vote on the entire proposal next week, before the March 31 expiration date of the current patch.

Key provisions of H.R. 1470 and the Senate bill include the following:

  • The SGR would be repealed immediately.
  • Positive annual payment updates of 0.5 percent would be provided for four-and-a-half years, beginning July 1.
  • The current Medicare quality reporting programs would be replaced with a simplified and consolidated merit-based incentive payment system, or MIPS.
  • A 5 percent incentive payment for physicians is provided for physicians who participate in alternative payment models and meet certain thresholds.
  • Provisions similar to the Standards of Care Protection Act are included.

Sponsors of the bipartisan legislation include Rep. Michael Burgess, MD, R-Texas, Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J., House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts, R-Penn., House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Gene Green, D-Texas, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin, D-Mich., House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Jim McDermott, D-Wash., and Rep. Charles Boustany, Jr., MD, R-La.

The AMA and physician organizations across the country are urging doctors nationwide to participate in a National Call to Action day on Tuesday. Contact your senators and representatives on that day and urge them to support H.R. 1470 in any of the following ways:

  • Call your lawmakers using the AMA’s toll-free Physicians Grassroots Hotline at 1-800-833-6354.
  • Send an urgent email to your lawmakers reinforcing the need for SGR repeal now.
  • Contact legislators directly through their own social media channels, and share your message with your own Facebook friends and Twitter followers. 
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