Imaging societies call on Congress to finally replace SGR

With a permanent replacement for Medicare’s sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula tantalizingly close at hand, a letter signed by more than 700 medical associations, including dozens of imaging societies, is calling on Congress to finally finish the job.

Addressed to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the letter praised last year’s efforts to repeal the SGR while pushing for closure from the current round of negotiation.

“Through months of hard work, a policy was developed that won not only bipartisan congressional support but also widespread support from organized medicine,” the societies wrote. “That proposal would not only eliminate the dysfunctional SGR formula, but also create new pathways for physicians to participate in alternative payment and health care delivery models that emphasize value over volume and have the demonstrated potential of reducing long-term spending growth across the Medicare program.”

The American College of Radiology, American Society of Neuroradiology and numerous state-level imaging societies all signed off on the statement.

A recent review from the Congressional Budget Office stated that the proposed bipartisan legislation mentioned in the letter would cost more than $174 billion over 10 years.

The flawed SGR formula has threatened to reduce Medicare physician reimbursement for years, but a permanent replacement has proven elusive and numerous temporary patches have been used to stave off cuts. The most recent postponement passed by Congress expires at the end of this month, and physicians would see a 21.2 percent cut in Medicare payments starting April 1 if no action is taken.