Senate and House leaders officially introduced legislation aimed at permanently repealing and replacing the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula.
The “SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act of 2015” is very similar to bills introduced last year to end a series of temporary SGR patches and prevent large cuts to physicians’ Medicare payments, according to the Senate Committee on Finance. The proposal is expected to have a total cost of $210 billion.
“Finally, after unparalleled progress in recent years, both sides of the aisle have begun to understand that the long-term solvency of our Medicare system depends on taking this fight head-on together,” Rep. Michael C. Burgess, MD, (R-Texas), part of the coalition that introduced the bill, said in a statement.
According to the Senate Committee on Finance, the bill would:
- Repeal the current SGR and institute a 0.5 percent payment update each year for five years;
- Streamline Medicare’s existing quality programs into one value-based performance program;
- Incentivize alternative payment models; and
- Improve Medicare transparency and patient access to information.
Currently, there is no agreement on how to pay for the legislation. The Senate Committee on Finance acknowledged more work will be needed in the coming days to make ends meet as well as address an extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program as part of a broader SGR repeal package.
If no action is taken, a 21.2 percent cut to physicians’ Medicare payments will begin on April 1.