Faced with a proposed cut to Medicare fee-for-service rates—a whopping 27 percent come Jan. 1, per the 2013 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) proposed rule—physicians have been waiting for a sign indicating Congress will override the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) methodology that calls for the cut, as they have since 2003.
Getting the ball rolling earlier than in years past, Rep. Michael Burgess, MD, (R-TX), introduced the Assuring Medicare Stability and Access for Seniors Act of 2012 on July 18.
This bill would amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to extend Medicare physician payment rates for one year. The update to the single conversion factor would again be zero percent.
“By providing one more year of stability we make a critical, initial step towards ridding ourselves of this problematic and inadequate payment system,” said Burgess in a statement.
The bill, however, lacks payment offsets—a necessary component to move forward—and is viewed by some industry stakeholders as nothing more than a political placeholder, InsideHealthPolicy.com reports.
Burgess goes on to say that Congress is making progress on crafting a permanent replacement for the SGR. “Congress must continue to work towards a permanent fix that will solve the issue once and for all, and this bill provides that time,” Burgess said.