The perennial scramble to address Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) has resumed during Congress’s lame duck session as lawmakers explore proposals to fix the flawed formula, which is now wrapped up in “fiscal cliff” negotiations.
Physicians are scheduled to see a 26.5 percent cut to Medicare reimbursements at the end of the year, unless Congress steps in to delay, as it has done repeatedly over the past several years. The longer Congress waits, the more expensive fixing the SGR formula becomes.
On Capitol Hill, there are many proposals to address the cut including one by the GOP Doctors Caucus, which is pushing a one-year patch to the SGR, noting the patch would provide Congress with enough time to develop a long-term replacement to the faulty formula. Bipartisan legislation, introduced last May by Reps. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) and Joe Hoeck (R-Nev.), proposed a full repeal of the SGR, using the Overseas Contingency Operations fund, or savings from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, it is unclear what House and Senate leadership will ultimately support.
ASCO continues to advocate that any SGR replacement be physician-led, while promoting the highest quality of care for patients.
According to a Congressional Budget Office report released last week, the cost for a one-year fix has increased by nearly $7 billion, to $25 billion, since its last projection. CBO reports that a two-year fix would cost $41.5 billion, while freezing Medicare reimbursement for 10 years would cost nearly $244 billion.
ASCO continues to participate in high-level meetings with Capitol Hill lawmakers on solutions to address the SGR crisis. Please continue to visit ASCO in Action for the latest updates on SGR developments.