A "dear colleagues" letter that was circulated in the U.S. House of Representatives urging repeal of the sustainable growth-rate formula for Medicare payments to physicians garnered 114 signatures before being sent on to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.
Lawmakers call for SGR repeal
Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) circulated the letter, which was signed by 92 Democrats and 21 Republicans, including Dr. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.).
"Physicians are currently threatened with a 29.5% cut in their payments unless Congress can end these budgetary games," Roe said in a news release issued by Schwartz. "Fixing the SGR will help bring stability to our medical system."
The 29.5% cut is scheduled to take effect in January, according to the SGR formula that was included in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. In December, President Barack Obama signed the Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010 that postponed a scheduled 25% pay cut and froze rates for one year. Since then, physicians have been lobbying Congress to come up with an alternative reimbursement system.
The letter to the deficit reduction panel calls for a full repeal of the SGR, for "a clear path toward comprehensive payment reform" and for a system that "promotes efficiency, quality and value" while ensuring access to medical services.
"We join together to urge bipartisan congressional action to put an end to the fiscal irresponsibility that has defined Medicare payment policies for a decade," the letter stated. "True deficit reduction cannot be achieved without addressing the significant debt in our nation's largest health program."
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