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One-year SGR patch passes House despite fierce opposition

The U.S. House of Representatives this morning passed H.R. 4302, a one-year Sustainable Growth Rate patch, despite widespread opposition by the Wisconsin Medical Society, the American Medical Association and most of organized medicine.

The bill was introduced late Tuesday, and on Wednesday the Society, AMA and nearly 100 other organizations urged House members to vote no. Unfortunately, under a suspension of rules, the House passed the SGR patch by voice vote, even though it appeared that many members were opposed.

“Instead of reforming the Medicare physician payment system, Congress seems intent on imposing yet another round of arbitrary provider payment reductions to maintain a corrosive policy, which essentially every member of Congress says should be scrapped,” said Society CEO Rick Abrams, JD.

The Society opposed H.R. 4302 because it kills the momentum and progress made to date on bipartisan policy agreements and bills that would finally replace the flawed Medicare physician payment system: H.R. 4015/ S. 2000, the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act of 2014.

“By extending the Medicare provider sequester and ‘cherry picking’ a number of cost-savings provisions included in the bipartisan, bicameral framework, the (bill) actually undermines future passage of the permanent repeal framework,” said AMA president Dr. Ardis Dee Hoven, in a statement. “Further, it would perpetuate the program instability that now impedes the development and adoption of healthcare delivery and payment innovation that can improve healthcare and strengthen the Medicare program.”

Among the provisions included in H.R. 4302, is a “pay-for” of $4 billion over 11 years that authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to change and address misvalued diagnostic codes. The bill also fails to include the Medicare data provision language the Society had worked successfully to include in the Medicare reform bills (H.R. 4015 and S. 2000); and it delays the ICD-10 implementation date until October 2015.

Attention now turns to the U.S. Senate, which must decide how to react just days before the scheduled 24 percent reduction to physician reimbursement takes effect April 1. The Society will continue to urge Senate members to renew the tremendous bipartisan progress made previously through H.R. 4015/ S. 2000.

Back to March 27, 2014 Medigram