Healthcare Business News

AARP presses Congress to replace SGR, block doc pay cut

By Andis Robeznieks
Posted: November 12, 2012 - 6:15 pm ET

AARP, the advocacy group for older Americans, has added its voice to the chorus of organizations calling on Congress to replace the sustainable growth-rate formula for Medicare physician payment and to block the scheduled 27.5% pay cut that the SGR calls for on Jan. 1.

In a letter sent to Congressional leaders (PDF), AARP called on Congress “to pass the longest possible SGR fix this year” and to develop a long-term alternative. To help pay for this solution, it's recommended in the letter that money from the Overseas Contingency Operations fund—“which the Pentagon says will never be spent”—be redirected to cover costs.

In addition to the 37 million-member AARP, the letter was signed by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, the American Geriatrics Society, the Center for Medicare Advocacy and the Medicare Rights Center, according to a news release.

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“Congress has long recognized that the sustainable growth rate is a poor method for establishing payment rates for healthcare providers paid under the Medicare physician fee schedule,” the letter stated. “In each of the last ten years it has voted to override the cuts mandated under the formula. These stop-gap measures have served to increase the size of future cuts, the cost of long-term reform, and the insecurity among people with Medicare about their ability to maintain access to their doctors.”

It's also stated in letter that “the annual legislative struggle to avert Medicare payment cuts has gone on far too long,” and that the “typical older person” spends more than 15% of their income on healthcare so imposing additional costs on Medicare beneficiaries must be avoided.

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