MedPAC Commission Endorses Proposal to Repeal Sustainable Growth Rate

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission has voted to endorse a proposal repealing the sustainable growth rate, replacing it with a 10-year alternative funded in part through 5.9% Medicare specialist payment cuts over the next 3 years followed by a 7-year payment freeze, according to a Medicare Payment Advisory Commission spokesperson.

Announced last month by the Medicare Payment Advistory Commission (MedPAC), the proposal also includes a 10-year freeze of payments to Medicare primary care physicians.

The recommendations have been opposed by a number of organizations and associations, including the American Medical Association (AMA), American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the American College of Surgeons, the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, the North American Spinal Society and The Endocrine Society — all of which, among others, signed a letter sent to MedPAC on Oct. 3.

“The AMA strongly opposes the Medicare physician payment recommendation voted on today by MedPAC,” AMA president Peter W. Carmel, MD, stated in an AMA release. “The commission joins many groups who have put forth proposals to repeal the broken Medicare physician payment formula. However, offsetting part of the cost of repeal through drastic cuts and long-term freezes to physicians falls far short of what is needed to preserve patients’ access to care.”

“The recommendation voted on today by MedPAC flies in the face of their previous recommendations to stop harmful physician cuts that threaten access to care for patients,” Carmel added. “The failed Medicare physician payment formula was created by Congress and the cost of repeal has increased over time due to the budget gimmicks they used to finance frequent short-term fixes. Congress must act now to permanently repeal the formula and stabilize the Medicare system for patients and physicians.”

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