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July 22, 2011

Dear Members:

Congress is working to devise a plan by August 2 to avoid the federal government defaulting on its fiscal obligations. That is the date officials say the federal government will reach the national debt ceiling at which time the nation will have reached its credit limit.

Regarding Medicare physician payments derived from the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), ACP firmly believes that any agreement reached by Congress to reduce the federal deficit must include a permanent solution to the SGR. Any plan must honestly take into account the fact that the federal government needs to pay for Medicare services that physicians provide to their patients, and not assume imaginary savings from SGR cuts that Congress will never allow to go into effect.

ACP, in collaboration with several physician groups, created a video message explaining the SGR problem and why it needs a permanent solution now. Using the link below, please send this e-mail and video message to your members of Congress today.

Click Here to Send Congress Your Message

Please also share it with your colleagues through other social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. The more people who see it and forward it to their members of Congress, the better.

ACP has taken no position on how best to resolve the dispute over the debt ceiling and has not endorsed any specific proposal by either political party or the Administration. As lawmakers work toward an agreement, however, ACP has actively weighed in with its priorities in order to identify the potential consequences for health care if an agreement is not reached. For more information on ACP efforts in this regard, please visit ACP’s Advocacy page.

Background on the SGR
For more than a decade, physicians have faced perennial cuts in Medicare reimbursement due to the seriously flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, which is used to determine Medicare physician payments. The SGR has produced a negative annual update that has resulted in the scheduling of across-the-board physician payment cuts for much of the past decade.

Congress has stepped in virtually every year to stop the scheduled cuts and pass short-term reprieves, thereby postponing a permanent solution and allowing the looming cuts-and the cost of eliminating them-to grow. Since numerous Congress' have taken these actions without adjusting the underlying SGR formula, the cumulative debt required by the formula to be recouped through offsets to future updates has grown each year.

Mark W. Purtle, MD, FACP
ACP Governor, Iowa Chapter

Page updated: 08/26/11