Congress Passes Budget Deal Including Patch to SGR

On Wednesday, Congress approved a budget agreement that extends Medicare’s current physician payment update of 0.5 percent through the end of March, averting a 23.7 percent payment cut to doctors that was scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2014.  The legislation was sent to President Obama for his signature.

Last week, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost for the short-term physician payment fix to the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula and the other healthcare provisions will cost about $8.3 billion over 10 years. Lawmakers agreed to pay for that in large part by revamping the payment system for the nation’s long-term acute-care hospitals.

As noted in an earlier Bulletin, the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) was in constant communication with Sen. Richard Burr, a member of the Senate Finance Committee and the NCMS has been actively engaged with other key legislators, signing onto a letter from the Coalition of State Medical Societies urging repeal of the SGR. The Coalition urged the Committee chairs to:

  •  Provide positive automatic payment updates
  •  Eliminate the Fee-for-Service program penalties
  •  Revise or eliminate adoption of the ICD-10 coding system

 Read the entire letter here.

The NCMS will continue to push for repeal and meaningful reforms to the Medicare payment system. The American Medical Association (AMA) has played a significant role in monitoring the Congressional action as well as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) final rule on the 2014 Physician Fee Schedule. Read a summary of the CMS rule here.


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