BLOG: House Republicans now divided on ‘doc fix’ for SGR
From international law firm Arnold & Porter LLP comes timely views on current regulatory and legislative topics that weigh on the minds of today’s physicians and health care executives.
In a surprising change of direction, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee released a draft bill to replace Medicare’s sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula for calculating fee-for-service (FFS) payments to physicians. This move follows several months of joint dialogue with the provider community, as well as Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee, through a series of open letters that were released in February and April. It remains to be seen how this development will affect congressional momentum for repealing the SGR, but the committee’s new direction certainly introduces an element of uncertainty into the conversations.
According to the committee’s press release, the draft legislation would repeal the SGR and replace it with a new payment system built around specialty-specific quality measures. The bill also would allow providers to leave the current FFS system and participate in new models of care, such as accountable care organizations, bundled payment systems, and patient-centered medical homes. The current draft, however, provides little information about how lawmakers intend to pay for these significant changes to Medicare’s current reimbursement methodology.
The committee will hold a hearing to discuss the draft legislation on June 5 and has asked interested stakeholders to provide comments by June 10.
Ted Lotchin, JD, MPH, can be reached at Arnold & Porter LLP, 555 12th St. NW, Washington, DC 20004-1206; 202-942-5250; email: Ted.Lotchin@aporter.com