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SGR Deal Would Fix Perennial Physician Pay Problem

Christopher Cheney, for HealthLeaders Media, February 7, 2014

Rep. Allyson Schwartz, (D-PA), a member of the Ways and Means Committee, introduced legislation a year ago that was incorporated into the SGR repeal deal. She urged Congress to approve the pact before SGR's latest extension expires at the end of March. "While we still have to grapple with the challenge of offsets, it is imperative that Congress acts to make sure seniors have access to the care they need," she said in a prepared statement. "Time is running out and Congress cannot afford to let this opportunity slip away."

New Payment System
A document prepared by the three congressional committees dated Feb. 6 provides details of the SGR repeal deal. A key provision of the pact is a set of guidelines for transitioning to the new payment system for physicians and other health care professionals, starting with the 0.5 percent annual pay hikes.

The deal "provides stable updates for five years and ensures no changes are made to the current payment system for four years," the Feb. 6 document states. "In 2018, it establishes a streamlined and improved incentive payment program that will focus the fee-for-service system on providing value and quality."

After the annual 0.5 percent rate increases from 2014 to 2018, "the rates in 2018 will be maintained through 2023, while providing professionals with the opportunity to receive additional payment adjustments," the Feb. 6 document states.

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