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Obama Signs SGR Patch Bill

President Obama Signs SGR Patch Bill

Congress decides not to try for a permanent fix.

By Maria Jennings

Late late Tuesday, President Obama quietly signed H.R. 4302, the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, a bill that will delay for one year a 24% cut in Medicare reimbursements mandated under the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) funding formula. The bill provides a 0.5 percent physician payment update through December 2014, and then a 0 update through April 1, 2015. The one year patch is expected to cost roughly $20 billion.

Both houses of Congress passed the bill through despite concerted efforts from over ninety national, statewide, regional and specialty physician organizations, including the American Medical Association (AMA) and the California Medical Association (CMA), to come up with a more permanent fix. Despite bicameral and bipartisan support for a permanent repeal, the badly broken formula has been kicked down the road yet again, for the seventeenth time in only ten years.

The California Medical Association released a statement asserting that they are "extremely disappointed that Congress has been unable to find bipartisan funding sources and seize the unprecedented momentum of support for permanent Medicare payment reform." 

CMA has worked for the past year alongside the AMA to develop legislation to establish a new Medicare payment system. But without agreement between the House and Senate leadership on how to pay for the repeal, there could not be a long-term fix  of the flawed SGR.

Despite this setback, CMA President Richard Thorp said, "We will continue to fight for reform that stabilizes Medicare for physicians and improves access for patients to the doctors of their choice."

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