SGR Band-Aid® Fix Comes at a High Cost
President Barack Obama signed a legislative Band-Aid® offered up by Congress last week, delaying a physician pay cut scheduled to take effect April 1, 2014 until March 31, 2015. But it comes with a hefty price tag.
According to ModernHealthcare.com, “Lobbyists for the American Medical Group Association [AMGA], whose 435 members include some of the nation’s largest physician practices, predicted Congress will spend the next year looking for ways to cover the more than $130 billion cost of repealing the Medicare sustainable growth-rate formula.”
This is the 17th Band-Aid® put on the festering SGR in almost as many years. Each postponement compounds the required rate adjustment to Physicians. To date, the SGR requires a 24 percent payment adjustment to physician reimbursement for services furnished to Medicare beneficiaries. The previous 16 patches have cost taxpayers a whopping $153.7 billion. Finding money for a permanent SGR fix that is agreeable to physicians has always been a political obstacle to permanent repeal. This year has proved to be no different.
Lobbyists Are on the Fence about ICD-10 Delay
Many AMGA members spent significant money preparing for the October 1, 2014 adoption of ICD-10, and AMGA leaders have expressed regret that the SGR Band-Aid® fix pushed the implementation date back to at least a year.
Karen Ferguson, AMGA senior director of public policy admits, “People who took those steps were angered by the extension.” AMGA’s Vice President for Public Policy Chet Speed noted, however, that lobbyists for physician organizations like the American Medical Association feel the ICD-10 delay is “a gift to placate the doctor societies” for failure to repeal the SGR. Speed also said that payers and hospitals tend to support ICD-10.