House Committees Release Updated Draft Bill To Repeal, Replace SGR
On Friday, leaders of the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees released another update to draft legislation that would permanently repeal and replace the sustainable growth rate formula -- which determines Medicare physician reimbursement rates -- with plans to begin work on the measure this month, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 6/28).
Congress routinely has passed "doc fix" legislation to delay cuts called for by the SGR, though physicians face substantial reductions in their Medicare reimbursements each time such legislation expires. The most recent doc fix delayed the cuts until Jan. 1, 2014, at which time physicians face about a 25% reduction to Medicare reimbursement rates.
Hopes for a permanent repeal increased in February, after the Congressional Budget Office's budget projections dramatically reduced the cost of eliminating the SGR from about $300 billion over 10 years to $138 billion over 10 years. Although lawmakers have attempted to repeal the SGR for years, efforts have failed because of the high cost.
In April, Republicans on the two House committees circulated a draft plan that would replace the SGR in three phases, gradually shifting to a reimbursement system that rewards physicians for quality care. In May, the lawmakers released a more-detailed version of that draft plan (California Healthline, 5/29).
However, the May plan did not specify how the changes would be funded.
Several stakeholders have criticized the plan -- developed by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp (R-Mich.) -- because it would not require providers to stop using the current fee-for-service model, "Healthwatch" reports ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 6/28).
Details of Latest Update to Draft Bill
Meanwhile, the latest update to the plan -- described as an advanced "legislative framework" -- still does not include details about funding, according to Modern Healthcare. However, Upton in a statement said the "final product will secure a long-term, fully paid for solution that improves quality of care, and, once and for all, removes the gimmicks that have plagued the SGR system."
The updated measure released last week includes feedback from stakeholders. The committees' leaders are requesting further feedback on the revised plan by July 9. Upton said he plans to bring a final version of the legislation to the House floor by the August recess (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 6/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.