Lawmakers say SGR repeal closer than ever

AMA Wire
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"The clock is ticking," said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas.  

Congress is closer than ever to passing broadly supported legislative policy that would eliminate Medicare’s flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula—and a permanent solution would come not a moment too soon.

“You are in a state where less than half of family physicians can afford to see new Medicare patients,” Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, told attendees at the 2014 AMA Interim Meeting in Dallas during a special forum Saturday about efforts to repeal the SGR formula. “The clock is ticking.”
In March, the U.S. Senate voted in favor of the 17th Medicare payment patch, spending more taxpayer money on another temporary fix instead of solving the SGR problem for good. The patch extended the current 0.5 percent payment update through the end of the year and froze payment rates from January to March of 2015.
With Congress heading into a lame duck session before newly elected members take office, there could be a solution—if both chambers and parties can work together.
“Most of the hard work has been done,” Rep. Michael Burgess, MD, R-Texas, said during the same Saturday session at the AMA meeting. “I’m optimistic that … there could be a new SGR ending in site.”
  “Most of the hard work has been done,” said
Rep. Michael Burgess, MD, R-Texas.

“We’ve passed [a patch for] so many years, the assumption is we’re just going to do it again,” said Rep. Brady. “We have to break that stereotype.”

Physicians recently paid house calls to members of Congress, urging their U.S. senators and representatives to make SGR repeal a priority. The AMA will continue to work with Congress and other medical societies toward eliminating the formula that has caused serious uncertainty in the Medicare program for years. 
Physicians should contact their U.S. senators and representatives to encourage them to repeal the SGR formula during the lame duck session. Visit the Fix Medicare Now website to access materials that can help these advocacy efforts.
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