March 13, 2015
House Considering Medicare Vote Next Week
Update: The House of Representatives is now expected to release an outline of the Medicare payment package the week of March 16, but the full legislation will likely not be introduced until the week of March 23. ASA staff is continuing to monitor the situation for details.
House Republican leadership is considering holding a vote next week on legislation that would permanently repeal the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula that has systematically introduced cuts to Medicare payments each year.
After several years of debate over how much health providers should be paid for treating Medicare patients, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23.) announced in a memo on March 11 that a “doc fix” bill may be up for a vote the week of March 16. It is estimated that this change in policy could cost up to $174 billion. Proponents of the measure point to the cumulative costs of the annual patches which outweigh the costs of the permanent repeal measure as a reason to move forward with the vote.
Congress has until March 31 to patch or permanently eliminate the current Medicare formula, known as SGR, to avoid doctors from facing an automatic 22 percent cut in Medicare payments. While there is bipartisan support for a permanent replacement to the SGR formula, Congressional insiders have said they expect another short term patch before a final solution can be reached. At issue for policymakers are the budget offsets, or “payfors” that congressional budget rules require in order to maintain revenue neutrality.
ASA will continue to monitor this proposed legislation and advocate for full repeal of the SGR formula with replacement by a mechanism that accurately reflects the cost of providing safe anesthesia care.
Read more about this proposed Medicare vote in The Hill.
Click here for a section-by-section summary of similar legislation introduced last Congress.