Bipartisan solution?

Move to repeal SGR formula showing promise in Congress, AOA says

Congressional House committee releases final version of legislation to repeal the sustainable growth rate formula.

The Texas Osteopathic Medical Association (TOMA) submitted a resolution to the AOA House of Delegates calling on the AOA to ask the U.S. Congress to abolish the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula used to calculate Medicare payments for physician services.

The resolution was not approved because it replicates existing AOA policy.

“We know the AOA has advocated on this issue, but we wanted to express our concerns that little progress has been made,” says TOMA President P. Steven Worrell, DO. “Every year, Congress just passes quick fixes. TOMA members are worried about significant payment reductions if SGR is not repealed.”

But the prospects for fixing the SGR formula are starting to look brighter, Ray Quintero, the AOA’s director of government relations, announced to hundreds of DOs gathered at an AOA town hall meeting Thursday night.

“Would everybody like some good news?” Quintero asked the standing-room-only crowd, which had been otherwise anxious for details on the proposed unified graduate medical education system.

“We were very excited to see earlier today that the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce released its final version of legislation that would repeal the SGR and would provide physicians with positive updates during a period of five years of stability with transition to new payment models.”

“The legislation is bipartisan,” Quintero stressed. “There are many names on top of the bill, which will be marked up in the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee on Monday and Tuesday. We anticipate that it will move through the entire committee by the end of the week. And, hopefully, it will be voted upon as soon as Congress comes back from its August recess.”

For many years, the AOA has championed for repealing the SGR formula, which ties physician payment increases to the gross national product. According to the AOA, this is unfair to physicians because GNP grows more slowly than physicians’ expenses. During the AOA’s most recent DO Day on Capitol Hill, SGR was one of the issues DOs and students discussed with their members of Congress.

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