Thanks to Chairman Herger for holding this hearing today to explore physician organization efforts to promote high quality patient care. As we work to replace the Medicare sustainable growth rate formula with a better way of paying physicians, it is important we understand what's happening in the private sector and learn how to incorporate that into an improved Medicare payment formula. I look forward to hearing the witnesses' ideas.
Our Committee has avoided replacing the Sustainable Growth Rate formula in favor of easier delivery system reforms. If we don't fix Medicare's physician payment formula, America's physicians will begin to abandon Medicare.
We've tried to reform the SGR for more than a decade. Because of the way the formula was originally designed, we now have a price tag of approximately $271 billion to correct it.
There is an opportunity to have the change fully paid for. The Overseas Contingency Operations fund (war spending) could be used this year to fund a permanent SGR fix. There is bipartisan support for this idea. Without objection, I'd like to insert in the record a letter signed by most of America's physician professional societies supporting the use of OCO funds to permanently resolve the SGR problem. Three of the organizations represented by today's witnesses -- the American College of Physicians, the American Gastroenterological Association, and American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons -- have signed this letter.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses and to the discussion to follow. I yield back the balance of my time.