Congressional support to repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) program is growing. Some 114 members of Congress, including 21 Republicans, have signed a bipartisan letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, asking the committee to repeal the unpopular Medicare physician payment system.
“We urge you to include a full repeal of the SGR, to stabilize current payment rates to ensure beneficiary access in the near-term, and set out a clear path toward comprehensive payment reform,” says the letter, which the signatories sent on Thursday to the 12-member “super committee.” “Failure to take advantage of this opportunity to permanently address the SGR means that the cost of a remedy over five years could double to nearly $600 billion.”
The letter notes that “for a decade, the fundamentally flawed Medicare physician payment system has created uncertainty and instability not only in the healthcare system but in the larger economy. Through this deficit reduction process, Congress has an historic opportunity to implement sound fiscal policy in the Medicare program in the context of broad economic reforms.”
It closes with a call for “bipartisan Congressional action to put an end to the fiscal irresponsibility that has defined Medicare payment policies for a decade. True deficit reduction cannot be achieved without addressing the significant debt in our nation’s largest health program.”
Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), a House leader on healthcare issues and the second-highest ranking Democrat on the House budget committee, organized the letter signing.