House Passes Milestone Bill to Provide Peace of Mind to Medicare Patients, Doctors
The U.S. House of Representatives voted today for legislation – H.R. 4015, the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act – that seeks to permanently repeal and replace the flawed Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate formula (SGR) that is used to reimburse our nation’s physicians. The current Medicare payment system has been a source of continued uncertainty within the health care and senior communities. The existing system jeopardizes seniors’ access to care and threatens physicians who serve Medicare beneficiaries with substantial across-the-board cuts in reimbursement. Addressing the issue has been a top priority for Congressman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, as Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“Today is one step toward keeping the Medicare promise to our nation’s seniors, current and future,” said Upton, who has spoken with countless Michigan seniors and doctors on the issue. “The legislation would once and for all repeal the broken SGR and replace it with a system that promotes the highest quality of care for seniors, eases the burden on physicians who are struggling under an increasing number of government programs that take time away from patients, and promotes new forms of health care delivery and innovation with an eye on the future.”
The House legislation replaces the broken payment formula and pays for the costs by delaying the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate for five years.
“The President’s health care law was never ready for primetime. The administration has acted unilaterally on countless occasions to delay provisions of its own law – why not delay this provision as well? And in doing so, we can put those savings to better use by paying for a program that works and helps our most vulnerable: our nation’s seniors.”
H.R. 4015 passed the House by a vote of 238 to 181 and now awaits consideration in the U.S. Senate.
“We have never come this far in finding a permanent solution. But there is still much work to be done after today’s vote, and I call on Senator Ron Wyden to pick up the torch and work with Majority Leader Harry Reid to put politics aside, stand up for our seniors and doctors, and let’s solve SGR this year.”
Enacted in 1997 as part of the Balanced Budget Act, the SGR has been a source of concern for physicians who serve Medicare beneficiaries and for the beneficiaries themselves. For more than a decade, Congress has enacted short-term legislative patches to delay the SGR cuts to physicians, causing great uncertainty for providers and patients, and has come at a great expense to American taxpayers.
In July 2013, Upton’s committee unanimously approved bipartisan legislation (H.R. 2810) to permanently fix the flawed SGR. This February, Upton joined other House and Senate leaders in announcing a bicameral solution to replace the long-troubled Medicare payment system.
“The physician community in general, and in the Kalamazoo and St. Joseph areas in particular, is extremely thankful for Fred’s leadership in fixing the everlasting SGR problem,” said Dr. Krishna Jain, MD, the founder of Advanced Vascular Surgery in Kalamazoo. “We appreciate his leadership, especially the input he has sought from doctors.”
Upton was recently recognized by the American Medical Association (AMA) with its top government service award because of his tireless efforts to permanently repeal and replace the SGR.