The Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), today held a hearing on "Reforming SGR: Prioritizing Quality in a Modernized Physician Payment System." The hearing comes on the heels of a draft legislative framework released last week by the Energy and Commerce Committee to repeal the current Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) system and replace it with a fair and stable system of physician payment in the Medicare program. The draft legislation is the latest step in the open and transparent process to reform the system and reward providers for delivering high-quality, efficient health care. On February 7, the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees outlined a framework to reform the current Medicare system that is fiscally responsible and free of politics. Committee leaders sought feedback and in early April outlined additional details of a proposal to repeal and replace the current SGR system.
Chairman Pitts said of the draft, "It is not a complete reform proposal. Rather, it is designed to be a partial release that allows for input from stakeholders and members of this committee. From the beginning of this process, there has been one clear goal: to remove the annual threat of looming provider cuts by permanently repealing the flawed SGR and replacing it with a system that incentivizes quality care, not simply volume of services. If we are to succeed in getting reform to the president's desk during this Congress, reform must be bipartisan and bicameral. It must also be fully offset and fiscally responsible."
Committee leaders have asked for continued input from interested stakeholders and request comments be sent to SGRComments@mail.house.gov by June 10.
"SGR reform is vital to ensuring economic stability for physicians, access to care for seniors, and securing the future of the Medicare system," stated full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). "In the end, the best chance for SGR reform to work its way to the president's desk is bipartisanship. Let's not be satisfied with the unprecedented progress that we have made -- let's continue working until we have finally solved this problem for our doctors and our seniors."
Chairman Upton added that the committee would continue to work with interested stakeholders and the Ways and Means Committee under Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI). "Both committees, working closely together and with careful attention to public input, have been able to transform the initial February outline we jointly released into a solid policy framework. There remains much more work to be done, including the hope for bipartisanship, but we would not be where we are today without our great friends on the Ways and Means Committee. That collaborative effort continues."