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Without Way to Pay for SGR Repeal, Is Optimism in Vain?

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media, December 5, 2013

The proposal isn't without criticism from the AMA or other groups, but with repeal in view the focus is on getting a bill passed. In fact, the AMA and the ACP were among physician and provider groups that met with staff from both the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees on Wednesday to find out how the committees responded to their concerns in the draft proposal.

The ACP issued a statement after the meeting saying the newest proposal included two of the organization's suggestions:

  1. Increase funding for performance measure development and validation
  2. Increase funding for physicians in smaller practices—and expands eligibility to smaller practices that fall outside of health professional shortage areas—to assist them in making the transition to VBP programs and other alternative payment models.

However, despite the momentum behind repealing the broken physician payment system, the issue of paying the bill's $139 billion price tag remains.

Ken Perez, a healthcare policy consultant, says the atmosphere that exists in Washington, D.C., will make finding that much money difficult.

"People fight over $10 billion-$20 billion," he says. "Paying for the SGR repeal is the Achilles' heel. Because of the cost and the deficit reduction climate, [Congress] is not going to add to the deficit. It comes back to the numbers. That's the cold, hard reality."

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