Medicare Cuts Delayed, Not Eliminated

Elyas Bakhtiari, for HealthLeaders Media , March 4, 2010

The SGR boondoggle actually makes a pretty compelling case for moving forward with the proposed Independent Medicare Payment Advisory Board that many physicians (particularly in select specialties) seem to oppose.

Some doctors fear that the board would significantly redistribute reimbursement from specialists to primary care doctors, or that it would enact unpopular payment changes that physician lobbies would be powerless to stop.

That is a possibility, of course. But it would also have the authority to follow through with proposals for moving away from the SGR formula and even change the underlying structure of the physician reimbursement system. It could take action, for a change.

American Medical Association physicians are in Washington this week to personally encourage Senators to pass the legislation that stalled last fall. Maybe it will work and Washington can redeem itself.

But Congress has pushed the SGR problem down the road for so long that it's hard to believe that it is actually capable of solving it anymore.

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Elyas Bakhtiari is a freelance editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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