CMS Administrator Mark McClellan, M.D., said he was optimistic that changes could be made to the Medicare physician payment formula before Jan. 1, when a 4.3% cut is scheduled to occur.
During a meeting with reporters, McClellan stopped short of saying there would be an overhaul of the sustainable growth rate, or SGR, saying the CMS' legal authority to carry out that job is still unclear. But he added there is support among members of Congress and the administration for a pay-for-performance component to be factored into the formula, offering some relief to doctors.
This week, Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.), who chairs the House Ways and Means health subcommittee, is expected to introduce legislation that would gradually repeal the SGR, replacing it with base annual updates and pay-for-performance bonuses. Physicians have said that without changes to the payment formula, Medicare reimbursements would be cut by an average of 5% annually for several years.