Ardis Dee Hoven, M.D., President, American Medical Association, made the following statement regarding the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate:
“Today’s release of the final Medicare payment rule serves as an urgent reminder to Congress that there are just 34 days before physicians who care for Medicare patients will face a steep payment cut of about 24 percent due to the short-sighted, fatally flawed Medicare payment formula – the SGR.
“There is real momentum in Congress for an SGR repeal this year. The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee and the U.S. Senate Finance Committee have issued the first bipartisan, bicameral congressional proposal acknowledging the broken Medicare payment formula has to go, while the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee has unanimously approved a bill to repeal the SGR.
“The timing is right: repealing the SGR formula this year and paving the way for a more stable and innovative Medicare program would cost half as much as last year’s projection. In fact, if we eliminate the fiscally foolish SGR once and for all it would cost less than all 15 of the previous patches that Congress has put in place over the last decade.
“Congress should act decisively this year to pass the SGR repeal, provide positive updates and improve the performance programs. Otherwise it risks spending additional billions of taxpayer dollars on another patch that preserves the broken Medicare payment formula for another year or two.
“The clock is ticking. At stake are innovations that would make Medicare more cost effective for current and future generations of seniors. These innovations are not possible if physicians are worried about drastic cuts to Medicare rates that have remained almost flat since 2001, while the cost of caring for patients has gone up by 25 percent.
“Innovation requires stability and investment: investment in health information technology to help share information at the point of care, investment in staff to help coordinate care, and investment in time for physicians to consult with each other about a patient’s care.
“Repealing the SGR this year will give Medicare a firm and stable foundation so physicians can pursue delivery innovations that help improve care and reduce costs.”