Unfortunately, there is no agreement on how to pay for the SGR repeal, so the issue has, again, been kicked down the road for Congress to deal with in March. A three-month patch was included in the budget President Barack Obama signed in late December. Instead of a 20% payment reduction, physicians will receive a 0.5% bump for services provided through the end of March. The extension should give Congress enough time to reach an agreement on paying for permanent repeal.
The AMA and other groups are understandably unhappy with yet another so-called "doc fix." American Academy of Family Physicians President, Reid Blackwelder, MD, FAAFP, cites the SGR issue as a major challenge in developing physician-led teams, a trend that holds the promise of improving care, quality, and lowering cost in an era of diminishing primary care access.
An Issue for Medical Students
"One of the biggest barriers is the reality that our current system pays for volume," says Blackwelder. "And that has created some significant challenges all over the country in that we're not used to recognizing the value of primary care especially in the setting that physician led teams can bring to the table. So as we transition from paying for volume (fee-for-service) to paying for value, the system we're trying to get away from doesn't have a way for me to easily document and be paid appropriately for it."