Lawmaker Letter to 'Super Committee' Makes Case for SGR Repeal

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media , October 10, 2011

Congressional support to repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) program is growing. Some 114 members of Congress, including 21 Republicans, have signed a bipartisan letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, asking the committee to repeal the unpopular Medicare physician payment system.

“We urge you to include a full repeal of the SGR, to stabilize current payment rates to ensure beneficiary access in the near-term, and set out a clear path toward comprehensive payment reform,” says the letter, which the signatories sent on Thursday to the 12-member “super committee.” “Failure to take advantage of this opportunity to permanently address the SGR means that the cost of a remedy over five years could double to nearly $600 billion.”

The letter notes that “for a decade, the fundamentally flawed Medicare physician payment system has created uncertainty and instability not only in the healthcare system but in the larger economy. Through this deficit reduction process, Congress has an historic opportunity to implement sound fiscal policy in the Medicare program in the context of broad economic reforms.”

It closes with a call for “bipartisan Congressional action to put an end to the fiscal irresponsibility that has defined Medicare payment policies for a decade. True deficit reduction cannot be achieved without addressing the significant debt in our nation’s largest health program.”

Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), a House leader on healthcare issues and the second-highest ranking Democrat on the House budget committee, organized the letter signing.

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2 comments on "Lawmaker Letter to 'Super Committee' Makes Case for SGR Repeal"

S Daniels (10/10/2011 at 3:32 PM)
Just pay doctors an annual compensation. Base rate based on historic volume of M & M patients with opportunity for additional payment based on quality & cost outcomes.

msamms (10/10/2011 at 10:12 AM)
New Scoring innovation is THE simple solution to the healthcare cost problem! I went to D.C., in August, to provide each Super Committee member healthcare legislative assistant information about an awesome [INVALID]native to the usual slash and burn overall reimbursement cuts that usually occurs within healthcare. In her book, Overtreated, Shannon Brownlee states, "...medicine does not function like other economic markets. If doctors found they weren't getting enough business, they didn't have to slash their fees in order to attract new patients; they could simply give more medical care to patients they already had...". She further describes this process as artificial demand creation. A much better way is offered through This is an innovation that is fair and will result in higher quality medicine while creating better healthcare economics. I proposed a generic scoring version that can be supported by Congress as anybody can participate in the scoring arena. This is an effective way of dealing with artificial demand creation. Attending to artificial demand creation will avoid the indiscriminate slash and burn across-the-board reimbursement cut mentality which was recently proposed by MedPAC. Healthcare scoring that takes into consideration procedure saturation, within a defined geometry, is a new model that makes perfect sense and avoids penalizing under-served areas of the U.S. This is a paradigm change that must be embraced. The Scoring process: If a provider has not performed a diagnostic test within the previous 12-months, the provider must apply for a score. A score is issued using complex algorithms that are based upon existing supply and capacity within a defined geographic region. Payers will [INVALID] reimbursement based upon the score. This process does not interfere with the sacred physician-patient relationship and does not deny any patient any needed service. Once the scoring process is fully deployed and the reduction in artificial demand creation has subsided, fewer redundant and unnecessary diagnostic services will be provided. The overall U.S. healthcare system will benefit from reduced costs. The healthcare scoring innovation will save $944 billion over the next 10 years in the U.S. healthcare system.




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