U.S. Rep. Michael C. Burgess, MD (R-Texas), filed legislation to extend Medicare physician payment rates for one year. He said HR 6142, the Assuring Medicare Stability and Access for Seniors Act of 2012, would ensure continued access for Medicare beneficiaries and TRICARE recipients.
"In order to guarantee a substantive, long-term plan, guaranteeing proper services for Medicare beneficiaries, doctors need to first be provided with payment certainty for 2013," he said. He added that "by providing one more year of stability we make a critical, initial step towards ridding ourselves of this problematic and inadequate payment system. Allowing for a one-year extension now will prove early to our seniors, physicians, and health care providers that they are at the forefront of our minds and our legislative agenda, and we will not leave them uncertain about how the upcoming 'fiscal cliff' will impact their care," said Dr. Burgess, vice chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health and chair of the Congressional Health Care Caucus. Unless Congress acts by the end of the year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will cut 2013 Medicare payments to physicians by 27 percent on Jan. 1 because of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. For the last decade, Congress has stepped in to avert scheduled fee reductions.
"Despite Congress' continual enactment of last-minute legislation to prevent these cuts from going into effect over the last few years, 11th-hour legislative maneuvers should no longer take the place of a stable and secure solution," said Dr. Burgess. "I have never seen so much progress made on this issue than this year, but Congress must have more time to work with stakeholders on crafting a permanent replacement [to the SGR]. While this legislation will provide a one-year extension, Congress must continue to work towards a permanent fix that will solve the issue once and for all, and this bill provides that time."
Action, Aug. 1, 2012