With about 100 days left this year, many of you are asking what the medical society is doing about stopping the 29% SGR cut scheduled for January 1, 2012.
This past Monday in Philadelphia, PAMED physician leaders met with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) for the second time this year to discuss the importance of resolving critical issues with Medicare’s SGR formula. Sen. Toomey is part of the 12-member federal super committee that Congress established to develop a 10-year federal deficit-reduction package of $1.2 to $1.5 trillion in budgetary cuts by late November.
This 12 member federal super committee has a one-time opportunity to eliminate the SGR formula, preserving access to care for Pennsylvania’s 2.2 million Medicare patients. According to the AMA (http://www.ama-assn.org/resources/doc/washington/sgr-states-pa.pdf), legislation resulting in repeal of the SGR would prevent a loss of $1.02 billion for the care of elderly and disabled patients in Pennsylvania in 2012 alone.
The long standing problem is that Congress has elected to repeatedly implement short-term fixes to the SGR instead of repeal or long term revision. The short term fixes do nothing more than put a band aid on the broken SGR formula.
Another obstacle is the looming debt legislation being debated in Washington with significant Medicare, Medicaid, and other health care cuts. If the SGR isn’t repealed, the prospects are bleak or nonexistent that Congress will be able to find funding to pay for a permanent fix to the SGR in the future.
Early September news from the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee (Med PAC), which advises Congress on Medicare payment policy, is the discussion of a proposal to repeal the SGR through a variety of budget offsets. The proposal also calls for a freeze in reimbursement for primary care physicians and a 5.9 percent cut for all other specialties for the next three years. This would be followed by a seven year freeze. MedPAC plans to vote on this proposal in October. This proposal would have serious consequences to medical care.
Please Take action now and urge Congress to permanently reform the SGR by eliminating the failed payment formula.
Lynn Lucas Fehm, MD, JD