SGR Ripe for Repeal

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media , June 11, 2013

At the Medical Group Management Association, Anders Gilberg, senior vice president for government affairs, is optimistic. He sees significant interest in resolving SGR policy. Noting that in recent years big policy discussions seem to take place during the fall, he says it's a good sign that "it's not even summer yet and the House and Senate are engaged on this issue. They are talking to stakeholders and collecting ideas."

John Williams, an attorney who specializes in government and public policy for Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman, an Indianapolis-based health law firm, stated in an e-mail exchange that even though it's only June, Congress is running out of 2013 calendar to see SGR action by both the Senate and House. " I think you might see something get out of one of the House committees this year, but I'm hard pressed to see how they [will] get a repeal bill done."

Williams, who heads the firm's federal advocacy practice group, also noted that no real SGR repeal bill is moving through any committee. "Although I hear it's not due to any animosity, House Ways and Means and Energy & Commerce are no longer working on a joint solution." The GOP members of E&C have released "a legislative outline, but it doesn't have enough details to be converted into a bill yet."

Meanwhile, HR 574 (Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act of 2013), a bipartisan effort from Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) and Rep Joe Heck (R-NV), was introduced in February and referred to House Ways and Means and E&C, where it remains. The bill includes a five-year period of payment stability popular with physicians.

"Before we know it, the August recess will be upon us and there still won't be a bill moving," said Williams.

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