Discussion Of SGR Fix Heats Up
Conferees negotiating the legislative package to extend the payroll tax break and to prevent a scheduled Medicare physician pay cut increased their focus on the physician payment piece of the puzzle. Meanwhile, the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing exploring private sector ideas for creating a new physician payment system.
Politico Pro: Conferees Turn To SGR, Spar Over Offsets
Republican payroll/SGR conferees proposed — and Democrats swiftly rejected — offsetting the SGR fix by charging wealthier seniors more for Medicare and clawing back money from the health care law. Both were ideas that Democrats had considered in the past, a point that Republicans brought up repeatedly. The Tuesday conference session, the most extensive discussion yet focused on SGR pay-fors, did not address an earlier GOP proposal to use hospital cuts to pay for the "doc fix." Nor did the conferees focus on using war savings to offset all or part of the SGR, an idea that many Republican oppose (DoBias, 2/7).
Boston Globe: Massachusetts Delegation Argues For End To Medicare Formula That Cuts Physicians' Pay
The Massachusetts delegation called upon congressional colleagues this afternoon to support a permanent fix to a controversial Medicare formula that would cut payments to doctors by nearly 30 percent if left alone. A full repeal of the flawed formula, known as the sustainable growth rate, is particularly important to the Bay State economy, the delegation argues in a letter to Dave Camp, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, and Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance (Jan, 2/7).
Modern Healthcare: Baucus Unsure Permanent SGR Fix Is Within Reach
Although Democrats have pushed to permanently replace the Medicare physician payment formula as part of extending a package of expiring tax cuts, a senior Democrat indicated Tuesday that a permanent fix was unlikely. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the senior Democrat on the panel negotiating the tax package, downplayed the likelihood of permanently replacing the Medicare sustainable growth-rate formula when asked about it after the group's fourth meeting (Daly, 2/7).
CQ HealthBeat: Hearing Explores Private Market Solution To Medicare Physician Payment Problem
House Ways and Means Committee Republicans Tuesday turned to the private market for inspiration on a new physician payment system, while Democrats emphasized the role government can play in improving the quality and efficiency of care. Health Subcommittee Chairman Wally Herger said at his hearing that it was important to hear from the private sector about ways "competition and market forces" could be incorporated into the Medicare program to reduce costs. He again called for a full replacement of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), the often-ignored formula that determines reimbursement rates for physicians who see Medicare patients (Ethridge, 2/7).
Modern Healthcare: Hearing Explores Doc-Payment Innovations
As congressional leaders remain stalled on how to develop a permanent fix to the Medicare physician payment formula, other lawmakers Wednesday learned about potential private-sector solutions from payers and physicians. Rep. Wally Herger (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee that held the hearing to examine rewarding physicians who deliver high-quality, efficient care, said he was "very encouraged" by what he heard from the panel's five witnesses, of whom four are physicians (Zigmond, 2/7).