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SGR Repeal Bill Advances to Full House Committee

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, July 24, 2013

So-called "doc-fix" legislation that would replace the sustainable growth rate formula with a system that rewards physicians for delivering quality care could be up for a full committee vote this week.

A bipartisan proposal to repeal and replace the sustainable growth rate formula took a critical step forward on Tuesday. By voice vote, the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Health passed a bill that replaces the existing Medicare's physician payment formula with a system to reward physicians for delivering quality care.

The action clears the way for a full committee vote, which could happen this week. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who chairs the E&C Committee, has let it be known that he wants a full House vote on the SGR repeal and replace bill before Congress takes its annual August recess.

The lack of a funding scheme or offset could limit the bill's progress, however. The cost of repeal is currently tallied at $138 billion over 10 years.

Still, Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), the subcommittee chair, heaped praise upon the bill. "The time of temporary fixes and kicking the can down the road has ended," Pitts said in a statement. "The bipartisan committee draft we approved today permanently repeals the SGR and places us on a path to paying for innovation and quality, not volume of services, and puts doctors not bureaucrats, back in charge of medicine."

In addition to repealing the SGR, the key components of the bill include:

A five-year period of payment stability
The bill provides an annual statutory update of 0.5% per year for 2014 through 2018. During this time, payment incentives such as the Physician Quality Reporting Program (PQRS) and the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program will continue.

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1 comments on "SGR Repeal Bill Advances to Full House Committee"


Matthew Taber (7/24/2013 at 11:59 AM)
Multiple attempts to repeal the SGR have failed miserably in the past. Proponents of the repeal completely had the opportunity to [INVALID] a repeal into the Fiscal Cliff legislation that passed with flying colors January 1st but proponents must have been too busy partying over New Years because they failed to [INVALID] the repeal into the legislation. Having worked for a member of the House in the past and worked on healthcare policy on the U.S. Senate HELP Committee, I understand exactly what it takes to get legislation passed. In order for this bill to pass, it will have to have all 20 physicians in Congress vote for it. In addition, it will need the votes of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Steny Hoyer, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, Mike Enzi, Lamar Alexander, Max Baucus, and Dick Durbin. Physicians and practice managers should lobby these individuals directly (very easy to do as I do it on a daily basis) if they wish to see the SGR be repealed.