House and Senate Committees Reach Agreement on SGR Bill
Compromise bill does not address offsets or payment methods
Negotiators from the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees as well as the Senate Finance Committee reached an agreement earlier today on a bill to replace the flawed Medicare physician payment formula known as “SGR” – incorporating aspects from the three competing versions. The compromise agreement does not include any language on extending certain Medicare policies, known as “extenders,” nor on offsets to pay for the legislation.
Congressional leaders are hoping for congressional action on this bill before the most recent SGR patch - which was approved last month - expires on March 31, but the effort to find offsets promises to be daunting.
Key changes that were incorporated into the final SGR repeal bill include:
- 0.5 percent increase in physician payments for 5 years before the alternative physician payment models take effect
- Making the targets in the incentive-based program more clear
- Allowing podiatrists, optometrists, and chiropractors to participate in the first year of the alternative payment models
- Provides $40 million in each of 5 years for technical assistance to offices with 15 or fewer professionals
- Capping of the payment adjustment at 9 percent instead of 12 percent
The compromise SGR bill did not include any offsets to pay for the SGR replacement, though staff from both committees indicated that they will continue to have discussions on offsets and Medicare extenders, including the non-SGR amendments that were accepted during the markup of Senate Finance Committee late last year.