The legislation includes important improvements over current law and reflects many AMA recommendations that will support enhancements in health care delivery, including repeal of Medicare's flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, positive annual updates to Medicare rates, quality standards developed by physicians, and a pathway to new models of health care delivery and payment.
"The legislation represents not only critical payment and delivery reform, but prudent fiscal policy as well," said AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven, M.D. "Congress must seize this opportunity to strengthen Medicare and end the costly pattern of short-term patches to a flawed formula that has frustrated physicians, threatened access for beneficiaries, and created a budgetary dilemma from which Congress has struggled to emerge for more than a decade."
To date, Congress has spent $153.7 billion over 12 years on SGR patches, far more than the cost of permanently reforming the Medicare physician payment system. Due to the cumulative nature of the formula, the cost of postponing a permanent solution rises each year.
"The nation can no longer afford to spend taxpayer money on stopgap measures that preserve bad policy and prolong years of paralyzing instability and financial uncertainty in the Medicare program," said Dr. Hoven. "The SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act will establish a transition to a more stable Medicare physician payment policy that better serves America's senior citizens, veterans, military families and people with disabilities."
Decisive congressional action is needed now and the AMA is working with medical societies around the county to rally physicians to speak out and tell Congress to vote as soon as possible in support of reforming the Medicare physician payment system.
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