Key leaders in the House and Senate have introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would permanently repeal the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula and consolidate several government-based quality reporting programs, including meaningful use.
The proposed bill, which is said to be “nearly identical” to bills introduced in the House and Senate last year that were ultimately amended or referred to committee, would repeal the SGR and institute a 0.5 percent payment update each year for five years. The SGR has been permanently patched 17 times in 11 years. The latest version is set to expire on March 31st.
“As a doctor, I know first-hand just how destructive the SGR formula has been to America’s seniors and their providers. Finally, after unparalleled progress in recent years, both sides of the aisle have begun to understand that the long-term solvency of our Medicare system depends on taking this fight head-on together,” Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), who was one of the many Congressmen who introduced the bill, said in a statement.
The bill would also consolidate including the Meaningful Use, Medicare Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), and Medicare Value Modifier program. It establishes metrics that would push forward interoperability of electronic health record (EHR) systems. The proposed bill would also incentivize providers to adopt the use of alternative payment models to encourage better coordination of care. This is all under the establishment of a Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).
The American College of Physicians approved the proposed bill. It sent out a statement shortly after it was introduced, praising House leaders for working together to develop it.
“Moreover, we are pleased that the bill is fiscally-responsible, by putting an end to the practice of Congress passing seemingly endless SGR “patches” that each time has cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars; 17 patches over the past 11 years that have neither achieved SGR repeal nor advanced real reform in physician payments,” David A. Fleming, M.D. President of the American College of Physicians (ACP) said in a statement.
Healthcare Informatics will have more on this story as it develops. The proposed bill can be found in its entirety here.