Legislation to avert a March 31 deadline to cut physician Medicare payments by 24% has been scheduled for a Thursday vote in the US House of Representatives. But the measure is another 1-year temporary patch and not a more permanent fix to Medicare’s sustainable growth rate formula.
Hopes for a more permanent solution were raised in February, when House and Senate negotiators reached a 5-year deal to provide physicians with a 0.5% annual increase in Medicare reimbursements, leading to optimism for a longer-term “doc fix.”
But efforts to eliminate Medicare’s sustainable growth rate formula (SGR) hit a political speed bump earlier this month when the Republican-controlled House approved a measure including provisions to delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Even before that vote, the American Medical Association wrote to Congress expressing “profound disappointment” that the process to reform Medicare’s SGR had “become a victim of partisan approaches to resolve budgetary issues.”
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the bicameral SGR bill would increase direct spending by about $138 billion over 10 years.