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 news 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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