In a letter to leaders of the U.S. House and Senate, TMA, the American Medical Association, and more than 600 physician organizations throughout the nation pressed for passage of legislation by March 31 to "repeal the fatally flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula." A 24-percent cut to Medicare payments will occur April 1 if Congress fails to act.
HR 4015 and S 2000, known as the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act of 2014, represent a bipartisan, bicameral agreement "resulting from tireless efforts among the three key congressional committees of jurisdiction to develop a solution for a problem that has bedeviled lawmakers for years," the groups said.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, TMA sent a letter to Texans in Congress. In the letter, TMA President Stephen L. Brotherton, MD, reminds lawmakers in both chambers, "We’ve made it this far only because of a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on the need to replace the SGR."
"Crafting the appropriate health care policy precepts of the bill was the hard part," he wrote. "Please don't stop here."
To date, Congress has enacted 16 SGR patches to the tune of $153.7 billion, a total TMA and the organizations that signed on to the letter say far exceeds what it would cost to reform the Medicare physician payment system once and for all. The 10-year cost of HR 4015/S 2000 is $138 billion.
"We can no longer afford to spend taxpayer money on stopgap measures that preserve a failed policy," the letter from the 600 medical associations states.
The groups state in the letter that the Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act includes health care delivery and physician payment reform recommendations from the physician community. It also calls for significant resources and tools to help physicians transition to new payment and delivery models.
The letter concludes by imploring Congress to "quickly seize the opportunity to take advantage of this work and momentum to finally break the SGR status quo and pass a long-term solution."
TMA urges member physicians to contact U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and their U.S. representative through the TMA Grassroots Action Center. A separate alert is available for patients to use.
Action, March 14, 2014