House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark (D-Calif.) said today that Congress doesn’t know how to fix the sustainable growth rate formula that is used to set Medicare physician reimbursement and doesn’t expect the first of two reports from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission to provide a clear-cut answer. The MedPAC report will be released Thursday.
Speaking at a health policy conference in Washington, Stark said that MedPAC will likely offer a range of options when federal lawmakers would rather have just one. "After the MedPAC summary, we still won’t know" how to fix the system, he predicted.
While only one part of a wide-ranging speech, the comments clearly indicate a growing frustration over the stalemate on Capitol Hill between lawmakers, providers and the lobbyists who represent them over how to permanently fix the reimbursement equation.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated last year that a sustainable growth rate repeal would cost the federal government $218 billion over a 10-year period.
As it stands, physicians are now on the hook for about a 10% reduction in Medicare reimbursement next year.