The House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee held a hearing today on options for repealing the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula and reforming the Medicare physician payment system to reward quality and value. One of the key proposals featured at the hearing was U.S. Representative Allyson Y. Schwartz's bipartisan Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act (H.R. 574), which she reintroduced in February with Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV). Their bipartisan legislation fully repeals the flawed reimbursement formula and stabilizes current payment rates to ensure beneficiary access in the near-term. It also creates positive incentives for undervalued primary, preventive and coordinated care services, and sets out a clear path toward comprehensive payment reform.
"The broken Medicare physician payment system has failed taxpayers and created uncertainty and instability for seniors, health care providers and the federal budget for more than a decade. The time is ripe to solve this persistent and costly problem so that we reward quality, provide better coordination of services and ensure our seniors get the care they need when they need it," Congresswoman Schwartz said.
"President Obama's budget proposal and the principles outlined by House Republican committee leaders both reflect the fact that there is common ground on a framework for fixing the Medicare reimbursement system. I am encouraged that the concepts proposed by President Obama and House Republicans are consistent with the bipartisan legislation I introduced with Rep. Heck earlier this year. It is my hope that the legislation I introduced will serve to move us forward towards bipartisan action that repeals the SGR and replaces it with a payment system that rewards quality and efficiency, contains costs and improves outcomes.
"I am confident there is real potential to enact a lasting, bipartisan solution this year for Medicare physician payment reform. Now is the time to get this done. There is no excuse for further delay."
Dr. Charles Cutler, MD, Chairman of the American College of Physicians (ACP) Board of Regents and a practicing internist in Norristown, PA, testified at today's Health Subcommittee hearing and reiterated the ACP's support for Congresswoman Schwartz's bipartisan Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act. "This bill, which we support, has a similar approach as the Camp-Upton proposal," he stated in his testimony, referring to the plan developed by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). The Schwartz-Heck bill "merits strong consideration by the subcommittee," Dr. Cutler said.
"ACP's approach recognizes that physicians are starting out in different places on incorporating best practices to achieve greater value for their patients, with some physicians already being very far down the road in redesigning their practices to achieve better value, while others are just getting started on the entrance ramp to value-based models," Dr. Cutler said. "Physicians at all points on this journey need to have models available to them that are appropriate and realistic for their particular stage but with the opportunity for physicians to earn additional incentive payments when they are doing more, and sooner, to improve outcomes and effectiveness of care."