Upon learning of the Jan. 1 news that Congress put into place a one-year “doc fix” to prevent a 26.9-percent immediate Medicare reimbursement cut to physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) is calling on legislation to repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula.
"Today's temporary patch to the Medicare physician payment is a reprieve for elderly and disabled patients whose health care security is jeopardized by continual threats to Medicare physician payment," AAFP Board Chair Glen Stream, M.D., said in statement. "This is a welcome relief, but it is not the solution. The current system, with its deeply flawed sustainable growth rate formula, generates an annual, semiannual, sometimes monthly crisis of confidence among elderly and disabled Medicare patients and their physicians."
The Medicare payment extension, which was passed as part of a larger budget deal between Congress and the White House, prevents a 26.5 percent reduction in the Medicare physician payment rate that was scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1 as a result of the SGR. It also delays implementation of the Budget Control Act's (BCA's) sequestration provision, which calls for a two percent cut in the Medicare physician payment rate and an additional eight percent cut in discretionary funding for vital medical education programs. The sequestration cuts were scheduled to take effect on Jan. 2.
"Now is the time for Congress to follow through on previous promises and commit to permanently end the ordeal of temporary patches that ultimately drive up the cost of a meaningful solution and destabilize the Medicare system," said Stream. "Congress must make good use of these 12 months to repeal the SGR and put a sustainable payment system in place that helps rebalance the primary care physician workforce."