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Medicare Brain Trust Floats SGR Solutions

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, May 16, 2012

What could be called a Medicare brain trust made an appearance last week on Capitol Hill in the first in a series of roundtable discussions on Medicare physician payments and hosted by the Senate Committee on Finance.

In attendance were Gail R. Wilensky,PhD; Bruce C. Vladeck, PhD; Thomas Scully; and Mark McClellan, MD and PhD. Each has headed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services or its predecessor, the Health Care Financing Administration.

In his opening statement Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), who chairs the committee, said the idea was to "focus on where things stand now and how we got here." He was referring, of course, to that scourge of politicians and providers: the sustainable growth rate formula.

Panic Mode
Congress and physicians are in a bit of panic right now because of the 27% cuts to physician payments that is slated to take effect in January 2013. In the old, pre-debt reduction days, Congress simply looked the other way as it voted to ignore the SGR for 10 years.

Now though it's becoming increasingly difficult for Congress to kick the SGR can down the road. Plus this is an election year, which puts Congress on the hotseat.  It must resolve the longstanding issue without appearing to stick it to physician voters.

That brings us to the Medicare brain trust.

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2 comments on "Medicare Brain Trust Floats SGR Solutions"


Steven Valles (5/16/2012 at 3:45 PM)
A successful proposal to fix the SGR needs to be developed soon. I read a write up by Han Zhong a policy analysis at the American Action Forum discussing the unhappiness of doctors. Some of their unhappiness seems to have a lot to do with problems the SGR has caused. I know I do not want to be cared for by a doctor in a bad mood. Really Interesting[INVALID]> http://bit.ly/ISg0dq

Kerry Willis MD (5/16/2012 at 2:35 PM)
They couldn't buy a vowel and solve the puzzle if they had to much less fix the SGR problem. BTW Its not that hard http://tbd-consulting.typepad.com/healthcare_talent/2011/12/dear-mr-president.html