On December 12, both the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee considered legislation they jointly authored to repeal and replace the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) Formula. ASA previously joined Surgical Coalition partners in opposition to these Committees’ draft legislation because of a proposed 10 year payment freeze and a punitive quality program. The Senate Finance Committee passed the legislation by a voice vote with Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) asking to be recorded as a “no” vote. The House Ways and Means Committee passed the legislation unanimously by a roll call vote.
The legislation as proposed included a controversial 10 year, zero percent payment freeze. The House Ways and Means Committee amended this provision to a 3 year, 0.5 percent payment increase, followed by a 7 year payment freeze. The Senate Finance Committee maintained the 10 year payment freeze.
The Senate Finance Committee heard an amendment to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (PPACA) controversial Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) that was offered by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX). Additionally, the Committee heard an amendment authored by Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Tom Carper (D-DE) that would have instituted “standard of care” liability protections for physicians. The amendment would have ensured that physicians would not be adversely impacted in liability cases by their participation in the quality program. Both amendments were introduced and discussed. Ultimately the authors of both amendments withdrew them from consideration and no action was taken.
Of note, during the House Ways and Means Committee’s consideration of the draft legislation, Congressman Tom Price (R-GA) introduced letters of opposition to the legislation into the formal record, including the ASA and Surgical Coalition letter. Congressman Price spoke of a need for additional changes to the proposal including a minimum five year transitional period of payment stability during which payments would be increased in each of the five years.
Consideration of the proposals by the full House of Representatives and Senate is not expected until the New Year. The House of Representatives adjourns this week and will not return until January 7, 2014. The Senate adjourns next week and will not return until January 6, 2014.
With the expiration of the current SGR patch set for December 31, 2013, imminent passage of a temporary 3-month SGR “patch” that includes a half percentage point payment update is expected shortly. The “patch” could be a part of the recently announced “Budget Deal.”
ASA is closely monitoring all efforts to repeal and replace the SGR.
Review the Statement from the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Regarding the Legislation.
Review the Statement from the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Regarding the Legislation.
Learn More About the Legislation and ASA’s Opposition to it.
Review the Coalition Letter to the Senate Finance Committee.
Review the Coalition Letter to the House Ways and Means Committee.
Review the Senate Finance Committee Section by Section Summary.
Review the House Ways and Means Committee Section by Section Summary