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MedPAC Votes to Kill SGR

Margaret Dick Tocknell and John Commins, October 7, 2011

Instead, AHA gave MedPAC a list of 40 recommendations that the hospital lobby said could generate savings, including medical malpractice reform, and budget reduction proposals from both the Obama Administration and from House Republicans.

AHA said it would even support raising the Medicare eligibility age and eliminating first-dollar coverage on MediGap plans if that would help the nation's hospitals avoid additional reimbursement cuts over the next decade. 

In a letter this week to MedPAC Chairman Glenn M. Hackbarth, AHA President/CEO Richard Umbdenstock said he supports eliminating the SGR, but not at the expense of hospitals. 

"Offsetting the cost of the repeal with Medicare cuts to hospitals and other providers is merely 'robbing Peter to pay Paul' and is the wrong approach," Umbdenstock said in the letter. "Making cuts to providers, such as hospitals, that, according to MedPAC itself, are already seeing negative Medicare margins, could endanger beneficiary access to those providers."

Instead of passing the costs onto other providers, Umbdenstock said MedPAC could pass the costs onto seniors by considering "offset suggestions, such as eliminating first-dollar coverage for MediGap plans or raising the Medicare eligibility age."

Umbdenstock says MedPAC and the federal government should consider tort reform, which he said adds between $50 billion and $100 billion each year to the nation's healthcare bill.

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3 comments on "MedPAC Votes to Kill SGR"


carol (10/10/2011 at 3:26 PM)
If doctor's fees are capped for 7 years after they have been reduced by 5% or so a year for the previous 3, will the staff also be willing to have their salaries capped? Many physician practices are small business' that will be impacted by reduced income which will affect and their ability to provide benefits and salary increases to their staff. Additionally they are being asked to impliment many other levels of government regulation. What about the cost of real estate and utilities? Will all of those be capped too? I am wondering why the best and brightest will consider going into medicine?

steve (10/7/2011 at 2:07 PM)
Specialist rates are now exactly the same as primary care rates. If a cardiologist sees a new patient for a level 4 new patient visit the fee is exactly the same as it would be for a family practitioner who save a new level 4 case. So, three years from now, the cardiologist would get 18% less than the family practitioner for the same level of visit. Does that sound reasonable. I guess it will discourage specialization. But it also will discourage cardiologists from accepting any Medicare patients. Or, they will stop doing patient care altogether and just concentrate on procedures. But perhaps that's a good thing. I don't really know.

Michael Samms (10/7/2011 at 10:50 AM)
It is sad that the proposed MedPAC "Doc Fix" includes indiscriminate across-the-board reimbursement freeze for Primary Care Services and annual indiscriminate across-the-board reimbursement decrease in Specialist Services. Why do regulators continue to put forth reimbursement fixes that addresses over-served and under-served areas of the country equally. It's unfair and mind-numbing. What methodologies can healthcare payers utilize that will improve healthcare quality while simultaneously lowering costs? One method recently identified is a scoring process, (see www.sesscoring.com). In her book, Overtreated, Shannon Brownlee states, "...medicine does not function like other economic markets. If doctors found they weren't getting enough business, they didn't have to slash their fees in order to attract new patients; they could simply give more medical care to patients they already had..." The Scoring process: If a provider has not performed a diagnostic test within the previous 12-months, the provider must apply for a score. A score is issued using complex algorithms that are based upon existing supply and capacity within a defined geographic region. Payers will alter reimbursement based upon the score. This process does not interfere with the sacred physician-patient relationship and does not deny any patient any needed service. Once the scoring process is fully deployed and the reduction in artificial demand creation has subsided, fewer redundant and unnecessary diagnostic services will be provided. The overall U.S. healthcare system will benefit from reduced costs. The healthcare scoring innovation will save $944 billion over the next 10 years in the U.S. healthcare system.