Another SGR Patch Likely, Lawmaker Says

John Commins, March 11, 2014

Lawmakers can't agree on a way to plug the $122 billion hole in the budget that would be created by the elimination of the reimbursement cuts and "chances are not great" for a permanent fix by the March 31 deadline, says the co-chair of the GOP Doctors' Caucus.

Congress likely will not find a permanent solution for the Sustainable Growth Rate funding formula before the deadline expires at the end of March, and will impose yet another temporary fix and re-address the issue later this year, a leading House Republican says.

U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, MD, (R-GA) co-chair of the 19-member GOP Doctors' Caucus, says there is widespread support in both parties and both chambers for ending the SGR Medicare reimbursement formula for physicians. However, he says lawmakers can't agree on a way to plug the $122 billion hole in the budget that would be created over 10 years with the elimination of the reimbursement cuts.

"By the end of the month I would have to say the chances are not great. That would require another short-term patch. But before the fall elections is what I am hoping for. There is a lot of work to be done between now and then," Gingrey said in a telephone interview.

Pressed by the American Medical Association and other physicians' associations to find a permanent fix, lawmakers had talked about finding common ground. However, momentum appeared to stall with word that House Republicans are expected this week to pass a bill that would pay for the cost of eliminating the SGR with a delay of the individual mandate under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Gingrey says he expects the bill will pass the Republican-controlled House.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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