A bill calling for ending the use of the Sustainable Growth Rate formula to set Medicare payments to physicians and replacing it with a new formula linked to the Medicare Economic Index has been submitted by Rep. Michael Burgess, (R-Texas).
Texas lawmaker offers replacement for SGR
The bill, called the “Ensuring the Future Physician Workforce Act,” would maintain the current SGR formula for the rest of 2009, block next year's scheduled 21% cut (Print subscription required) and then begin using a new, MEI-based formula in 2011.
The MEI is a measure of inflation that includes factors such as a physician's own time, nonphysician employees' compensation, rents and medical equipment. A physician, Burgess is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He has been critical of President Obama's healthcare reform proposals.
The American Medical Association, which has endorsed the Democrat-sponsored “Affordable Health Choices Act” reform bill, hasn't taken a position yet on the new measure. “The AMA has yet to receive actual legislative language, but applauds Rep. Burgess' steadfast efforts to correct the flawed Medicare physician payment formula to ensure seniors' access to care and choice of physician,” according to an e-mail from the AMA that was not attributable to anyone within the organization.
The bill has nine co-sponsors. All are Republicans, and two are also physicians: Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) and Phil Roe (R-Tenn.).
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