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Physician Payment Reform Gets Serious

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, March 8, 2012

Talking to Schroeder, you get the sense that the commission may not be up for political fights, like the one currently dogging the SGR formula. That formula, which many physicians simply want to banish forever, is the center of continued dallying by Congress over specific funding.

Most recently, lawmakers passed a 10-month patch to stop potential 27% cuts to Medicare payments to physicians that would have begun March 1. The agreement was the 14th short-term "doc fix" to the SGR in the past 10 years, according to the American Medical Association.

The Frist and Schroeder commission isn't likely to do anything dramatic to influence the SGR, so don't hold your breath. But it's extremely early, so who knows?
Schroeder downplayed any potential fistfights over SGR. "Right now I look at that as a very important contextual issue, but probably fixing it is outside the scope of what our commission is going to recommend," Shroeder says. "It's up to Congress. They are getting lots of advice, from kicking the can down the road to granting a waiver to other kinds of things."

While the commission may make some note of the SGR issue, it isn't likely to create a lot of noise. That's a disappointment.

When it comes to ACOs, though, the commission may engage in some in-depth discussions, and that's welcome.

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