Poor proposal under discussion by MedPAC regarding SGR fix
September 16, 2011
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), which advises Congress on Medicare payment policy, has recently discussed the possibility of adopting a proposal to address the SGR. The proposal would repeal the SGR using a broad range of budget offsets. However, to bring down the cost of repeal, the proposal calls for a freeze for primary care and a 5.9 percent cut for all of the other specialties for each of the next 3 years followed by a 7 year freeze. The proposal is currently under discussion by the Commission but will not be voted on until the October 6-7 meeting. If the Commission adopts this proposal as its SGR recommendation to Congress, it will make it that much more difficult to convince Congress to adopt the plan that the AMA has been supporting. AMA officials expect that MedPAC will be releasing more on this proposal in the next week or so.
AMA President Peter Carmel, MD, released this statement:
"The misguided scheme discussed by MedPAC to replace the nearly 30 percent cut to physicians scheduled for January 1 with a new series of very significant cuts will harm patients and physicians in the Medicare program. The new cuts are inconsistent with MedPAC's previous recommendations to stop cuts to physicians who care for Medicare patients because they threaten access to care for patients and would have severe consequences for the Medicare system.
"Medicare payment updates since 2001 have not kept up with the cost of running a medical practice, leaving a 20 percent gap between reimbursement rates and practice expenses. Further drastic cuts pose a very real risk to physicians' ability to retain staff, care for Medicare patients and make the investments needed to modernize their practices and participate in care delivery models intended to improve quality while reducing costs in the Medicare system."