Healthcare Business News

SGR patch expected in lame duck session

By Rich Daly
Posted: November 15, 2012 - 1:30 pm ET

The co-chair of the House GOP Doctors Caucus is “pretty confident” that Congress will approve a one-year freeze in Medicare physician pay rates during the lame duck session of Congress.

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) told reporters Thursday that the caucus has discussed a plan to push during the post-election session of Congress a one-year freeze in Medicare physician pay rates, which are slated for a 27.5% cut Jan. 1.

“During the lame duck, there will be a patch,” he said.

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Gingrey was confident that Congress would find the $18 billion needed to offset the cost of a one-year payment freeze and suggested using savings from cutting programs included in a recently released annual report on wasteful government spending by physician Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). However, Gingrey rejected the use of savings from the end of the Iraq War—an SGR pay-for long favored by Democrats—as “smoke and mirrors.”

Gingrey said the one-year sustainable growth-rate formula patch would receive congressional approval during the lame-duck session of Congress, regardless of whether legislators provide only a several-month freeze in other major spending cuts—as favored by some members of Congress.

His caucus plans to focus next year on finding a replacement to the SGR and a way to pay the $300 billion cost of permanently replacing it.

The plans for a lame-duck SGR push followed AARP's joining provider groups earlier this week in urging Congress to replace the SGR and to block the scheduled cut.

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