Each year the “doctor fix” has managed to side step the drastic slash scheduled for Medicare reimbursements over the last few years. The decrease in payments for services rendered is based on a formula in accordance with the Sustainable Growth Rate.(SGR). Now, much to the huge amount of approval by physician groups, there is a proposal to repeal this SGR formula. This comes amidst the discussions on how to avoid a United States government default.
Should the SGR not be repealed, then in 2012 Medicare reimbursements are scheduled to be slashed by 30%.
The American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Physicians and the AMA among many other organizations totaling more than 700,000 doctors signed a letter in ” recognizing that reform of the Medicare physician payment formula—specifically a full repeal of the SGR formula—must be included in deficit-reduction legislation. Failure to recognize the impact of the SGR on the long-term financial health of the Medicare program would be to ignore one of the most pressing financial and healthcare policy issues facing our nation.”
While the proposal cuts more than $200 billion from healthcare programs, the Senate Finance Committee is committed to keeping programs geared toward the disadvantaged patients and the elderly.
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee also highlighted the need for tort reform by stating “Our nation’s broken medical liability system increases healthcare costs for all Americans at a time when we can least afford it, threatens patient access to quality medical care, and increases our national deficit.”
By in large, President Obama seemed in favor of this proposal by stating we’ve “got to be serious about reducing discretionary spending both in domestic spending and defense; we’ve got to be serious about tackling healthcare spending and entitlements in a serious way; and we’ve got to have some additional revenue so that we have an approach in which there is shared sacrifice and everybody is giving up something.”
The Gang of Six members—Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Kent Conrad (D-ND), and Mark Warner (D-VA)—said they would push for a vote on their proposal in the House and Senate.
Thank goodness this issue is being revisited. This is a sensitive issue and a fine line that the government is juggling. If left in place, the incredible decrease in reimbursements would mean only one thing- physicians would NOT participate in a Medicare program…they would not be able to afford to! There would be no celebration that Medicare is still in existence if a senior couldn’t find a healthcare provider that would accept it!