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Heck and Schwartz Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Repeal SGR and Reform Medicare Physician Payment System

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Reps. Joe Heck, D.O. (R-NV) and Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) introduced the Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act today to ensure patient access to physicians while promoting efficiency, quality and value in health care delivery. The bipartisan legislation permanently repeals the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula and sets out a clear path toward comprehensive reforms of Medicare payment and delivery systems. This week, the Congressional Budget Office significantly lowered its estimate of the cost to permanently repeal the SGR from $245 billion to $138 billion.

Medicare payment policies have a direct impact on the care that beneficiaries receive and the sustainability of Medicare in the long term. For over a decade, the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula--which is used to determine payments for physicians' services under Medicare--has threatened to impose steep cuts in Medicare payments for care provided to America's seniors. These cuts threaten to drive physicians out of Medicare, creating severe access problems for our seniors and leading to uncertainty and instability for patients, health care providers, and the federal budget.

The Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act puts in place vital delivery system and payment reforms to ensure long-term stability in the Medicare physician payment system and contains the rising growth in health care costs.

"There is no single greater threat to the long-term solvency of Medicare and seniors access to health care than the broken Medicare payment system, or SGR. Each year, health care practitioners are faced with devastating cuts that could make it nearly impossible for them to continue providing care for Medicare beneficiaries. And each year Congress has avoided coming up with a serious solution to this problem," said U.S. Rep. Joe Heck (NV-03). "This bill is that solution. Our seniors and their health care providers deserve a program that is immune to congressional dysfunction and that would provide stability by replacing the currently flawed formula with a system that promotes efficient, cost-effective health care. I thank Congresswoman Schwartz for joining with me to confront this issue and look forward to working to see this bill passed."

"For over a decade, this policy has failed taxpayers, Medicare beneficiaries and those on the frontlines of patient care. The framework for this legislation has garnered broad bipartisan support over the past year," said U.S. Rep. Schwartz (PA-13). "I look forward to working with Representative Heck and my Republican and Democratic colleagues on the Ways & Means Committee to pass legislation this year that fully repeals the SGR and moves us toward our shared goals of rewarding quality, providing better integration and coordination of care, and ensuring seniors get the care they need when they need it. There is no excuse for further inaction."

Summary of the Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act:

Permanently repeals the SGR formula

Provides annual positive payment updates for all physicians for four years

Ensures access to preventive care, care coordination, and primary care services through increased payment updates for those services

Aggressively tests and evaluates new payment and delivery models

Identifies a variety of unique payment models to provide options for providers across medical specialties, practice types, and geographic regions

Stabilizes payment rates for providers who demonstrate a commitment to quality and efficiency within a fee-for-service model

Ensures long-term stability in the Medicare physician payment system through predictable updates that accurately reflect the cost and value of providing health care services in coordinated care models

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