Key Lawmakers Announce Bicameral Bipartisan Deal to Replace SGR
On February 6, the chairs of the House Ways and Means, House Energy and Commerce and the Senate Finance Committees unveiled bicameral and bipartisan legislation to repeal and replace the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula.
The reform package would provide for a 0.5 percent payment update for 5 years. The package will create a new Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) that combines the current Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), Value-Based Modifier, and the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Meaningful Use. This MIPS system will include bonus and penalties to payments based on a combined composite performance score. The package also creates incentives for physicians to participate in alternative payment models.
The reform package did not address the anticipated $145 billion cost necessary to finance the repeal of the SGR and the new program the package creates. Lawmakers said negotiations on funding or budget "off-sets" are ongoing.
In December of 2013, Congress passed a 3 month SGR "patch" that includes a positive 0.5 percent payment update intended to provide lawmakers with more time to consider the pending SGR reform legislation. This patch avoided the nearly twenty-four percent SGR cut scheduled to take effect January 1, 2014, but it expires on March 31, 2014.
ASA is currently reviewing the new payment proposal and its impact on anesthesiologists' practices.