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Ardis Hoven

AMA backs SGR-repeal bill, offers no plan on how to pay for legislation

By Andis Robeznieks
Posted: February 11, 2014 - 3:30 pm ET

The American Medical Association pledged its full support for legislation repealing the Medicare sustainable growth-rate physician payment formula. But for now, at least, the AMA is not making any suggestions on how to cover the bill's estimated $126 billion cost.

“Congress can manage this,” Dr. Ardis Dee Hoven, AMA president, told reporters during a conference call.

She added that the AMA is adamantly opposed to a nine-month suspension of SGR-driven pay cuts that some lawmakers proposed, including in a bill to raise the national debt ceiling. Doctors will receive a 24% Medicare pay cut if Congress doesn't act by March 31.

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Congress approved the first legislative “patch” of the SGR in an appropriations bill signed by then-President George W. Bush on Feb. 20, 2003. Since then, it has passed 16 temporary patches that have cost taxpayers $153.7 billion.

Hoven said the bill would be an improvement over existing law and noted that it includes several AMA recommendations, such as annual payment increases and the use of physician-developed quality measures.

“I trust the members of Congress to get this right,” Hoven said.

The AMA, with about 225,000 members, is the nation's oldest and still largest physician organization. The second-largest group, the 137,000-member American College of Physicians internal medicine specialty society, has also endorsed the SGR-repeal bill, as has the 79,000-member American College of Surgeons.

Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks

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