As we head into the holiday season, one gift that most, if not all, physicians would enjoy is a permanent fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate formula, or SGR.  The current SGR formula, introduced in 1997, has threatened to cut physician Medicare payments by up to double digits.  The last proposed cut for 2013 was 26.5 percent, but was postponed due to a last-minute congressional “patch” known as the American Taxpayer Relief Act, which was passed on this past New Year’s Day.  In the last few months, there have been discussions before the House Ways & Means Committee as well as the Senate Finance Committee concerning possible bills that address a possible long-term or permanent repeal to the SGR formula.  Read more in MedPage Today, Modern Healthcare and The Commonwealth Fund.

As you can see here, the “mark-up” for the bills is scheduled for the week of December 9, and there appears to be a focus on a 10-year freeze for physician payments as well as pay-for-performance incentives beginning in 2017.

The American Medical Association came up with recommendations  for the SGR fix at its recent House of Delegates interim meeting in Maryland.

It is important for physicians all over the country, including New Hampshire, to understand the proposed SGR formula changes, based on what comes out next week from the House Ways & Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee.  Reach out to your congressional delegates and have your opinion heard on this crucial issue.  As in previous years, a temporary patch may also be what occurs as of January 1, 2014, if a satisfactory plan can’t be achieved.  The cost of a proposed SGR fix will likely be in the range of $175 billion, and that money will have to come from somewhere.  Read more

Regards, 

Stuart J. Glassman, MD

Please send your questions or comments to president@nhms.org or post a comment below.