The Senate passed another one-year fix to the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, to the dismay of the American Academy of Dermatology Association and numerous other physician advocate groups.
The 17th temporary patch to SGR passed March 31, hours before the existing patch was set to expire. The one-year fix keeps current Medicare payment rates through March 31, 2015. The bill heads to President Obama’s desk for approval.
The AAD and other physician groups have long pushed for a permanent repeal of the SGR, rather than ongoing short-term fixes.
“The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) is disappointed that Congress could not build on the bipartisan progress of the past year and finalize a permanent solution to Medicare payment reform and repeal Medicare’s flawed sustainable growth rate formula once and for all,” AADA President Brett Coldiron, M.D., said in a written statement.
The AADA was among 83 other physician groups that had sent a letter to the House noting that the current legislation includes provisions to pay for the fix using cost savings proposals. The AADA said the provisions “would undermine the possibility for future passage of payment reform and add to the instability that now impedes the development” of healthcare delivery.
“Congress has spent more taxpayer money on temporary patches than it would cost to solve the problem for good,” Ardis Dee Hoven, M.D., president of the American Medical Association, said in a written statement. “This bill perpetuates an environment of uncertainty for physicians, making it harder for them to implement new innovative systems to better coordinate care and improve quality of care for patients.”
Dr. Coldiron pledged the AADA would continue to work with Congress toward a “long-term solution” for eliminating the SGR formula.
“Together, we must reform Medicare’s physician payment system to create a stable one that protects Medicare’s patients, pays physicians fairly, and improves quality and efficiency,” he said.