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Obama Quietly Signs SGR Patch Bill

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, April 2, 2014

The Senate followed suit on Monday night after brief but fierce debate, and easily passed the bill on a bipartisan 64-35 vote.

The new law has broad implications for just about everyone in the healthcare sector, from patients to providers to vendors, and the passage of the bill and its railroading through Congress left stakeholders sharply divided.

Even though the law delays for one year potentially devastating reimbursement cuts for physicians, the legislation was bitterly opposed by the American Medical Association, which had made finding a permanent fix for the SGR its top legislative priority this session.

AMA, CHIME Disappointed
AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, says Congress "failed to seize a historic opportunity" to find a permanent fix, even as physicians were led to believe up as late as this week that some sort of deal was at hand.

"Up until the final hour, multiple members of Congress spoke publicly about the need for reform, and several bills that used the agreed-upon SGR repeal policy were put forth," Hoven said in a letter to AMA members.

"The problem was that the bipartisan collaboration that had characterized the policy development phase collapsed when it came to paying for the legislation. The various funding sources brought forth were so politically polarizing that some of the proposals never even made it to a vote. We continued to urge Congress to resume bipartisan, bicameral collaboration to reach agreement on an acceptable way to pay for repeal. But this step appears to be one they were unwilling to take, letting their political interests trump good policy choices."
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