Senate Finance Committee Hears More 'Doc Fix' Testimony

Margaret Dick Tocknell, May 15, 2013

The sustainable growth rate formula's days may be numbered, but the SGR won't be repealed until an alternative system for making Medicare payments to physicians is found.

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Media reports that the IRS targeted conservative political groups prompted leaders of the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday to call for an investigation, but did not prevent the committee from holding its scheduled hearing on the matter of Medicare payments to physicians.

While the sustainable growth rate formula has long been discounted as a flawed system for calculating payments to doctors and there have been regular calls for its repeal, Congress and other stakeholders have been unable to agree on what should replace the formula.

On May 10, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), the committee chairman and ranking member Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) appealed to healthcare providers to proffer solutions for improving Medicare's physician reimbursement system.

In his opening statement, Baucus emphasized a window of opportunity to act created by a significantly lower estimate of what it would cost to real the SGR. In a recent report the Congressional Budget Office report lowered from $245 million to $138 million the estimated cost of repeal over 10 years.

Agreement from across the aisle was swift. "The CBO score has a tendency to fluctuate," said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), ranking member. "We must act now."

Margaret Dick Tocknell Margaret Dick Tocknell is a reporter/editor with HealthLeaders Media.


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