Legislation to delay the 24% Medicare pay cut based on the Sustainable Growth Rate formula passed the House by a voice vote March 27, despite the objections of a large coalition of physician organizations.
The Protecting Access to Medicare Act (H.R. 4302) would delay the SGR-mandated cut slated to take effect March 31, replace it with a 0.5% pay increase through the end of 2014, and freeze Medicare pay at that rate for the first quarter of 2015. The bill also would delay implementation of ICD-10 for 1 year.
At press time, it was uncertain if the Senate would take up the bill.
Physicians organizations favor full repeal of the SGR and would like to see it replaced with a payment and delivery system reform policy that passed the House earlier this month as H.R. 4015. Financing for that legislation depended on a 5-year delay on the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, something most Democratic lawmakers do not support. H.R. 4015 had not been taken up by the Senate as the March 31 deadline loomed.
Prior to the vote, a coalition of 58 organizations called on the House to vote against the legislation.
"Instead of reforming the Medicare physician payment system, Congress seems intent on imposing yet another round of arbitrary provider payment reductions to maintain a corrosive policy that essentially every member of Congress says should be scrapped," the coalition wrote in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). "The endless cycle of short-term remedies that serve to support a failed policy are no longer acceptable."
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