Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr.'s (NJ-06) bipartisan proposal to fix the long-plagued Medicare doctor payment system, the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), passed the House Committee on Energy and Commerce by a recorded vote of 51-0. Pallone is ranking Democrat for the Subcommittee on Health and sponsored the bill upon hearing from thousands of seniors at events, meetings and telephone town halls about their concerns of losing their doctors due to the flawed law.
"We need to transform our current health care payment system from one that rewards volume to one that produces improved value through a focus on quality, patient outcomes, and efficiency, and this proposal builds on the mission of the Affordable Care Act to do just that," said Pallone. "When I speak with seniors in my district, they are worried that they will be forced to change doctors due to the uncertainty in the system, but this proposal would help to end uncertainty and improve and strengthen Medicare."
Pallone's bill takes Congress a step closer to resolving a many years-long problem that has threatened the ability of doctors to continue to treat Medicare patients. Pallone, who was a principal author of President Obama's landmark health care reform bill, the Affordable Care Act, reached across party lines to develop this agreement on the SGR with House Republicans, including Congressman Michael Burgess of Texas, who serves as the Health Subcommittee's Vice Chair.
The bill repeals the flawed current SGR system and replaces it with a stable period of payments, giving certainty to doctors and patients alike. It would allow physicians to continue to provide health services without fear of losing compensation. Previously, Congress has passed a variety of stop-gap measures to prevent dramatic cuts to the formula every year for nearly a decade. Instead of looming cuts, doctors will be rewarded for quality of care they provide to Medicare beneficiaries.
"This proposal is a great step in the right direction to reforming how we pay doctors in our health care system, and I'm pleased to see it supported by all members of the Energy and Commerce Committee. I will continue working with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle as the bill moves forward," added Pallone.