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Internal Medicine Physicians Commend House Leaders, Tell Senate to Immediately Pass Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act

'Now it is up to Senate to do its part,' say Internists

March 26, 2015

(Washington) The American College of Physicians (ACP) today commended Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for reaching agreement on the policies included in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act and for their steadfast leadership in bringing the bill to a successful vote in the House of Representatives. ACP President David A. Fleming, MD, MA, MACP, thanked the House leaders and provided ACP's desired Senate action in a letter to Senate Majority Leader McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Reid, Ranking Senate Finance Committee Member Wyden and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hatch.

"ACP strongly urges the Senate to immediately pass the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, H.R. 2, which was passed by the House of Representatives just moments ago with an impressive bipartisan majority," Dr. Fleming said. "It is imperative that the Senate pass H.R. 2 before it recesses on Friday, March 27, and before a devastating 21 percent Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) cut is applied to all physician services provided to Medicare enrollees starting on April 1."

Dr. Fleming continued, "The House vote reflects the fact that never before has there been such broad and bipartisan support within and outside of Congress for policies to repeal the Medicare SGR formula and to create a better payment system for physician services provided to patients enrolled in Medicare. The vote reflects the fact that never before has such a bill received the support from so many stakeholders across the health care system: hospitals, nursing homes, consumer advocacy organizations, unions, payers, and over 750 physician membership organizations, national and state."

Now, it is up to the Senate to do its part.

Dr. Fleming noted that, "By passing this bill no later than Friday, March 27, the Senate will join the House in enacting legislation to achieve historic reforms in physician payment while making other needed healthcare improvements:

  • The SGR would be repealed, once and for all, preventing the 21 percent SGR cut on April 1.
  • Physicians would be provided with positive and stable payment as they transition to new payment models:
    • The bill provides pathways for physicians to earn positive updates for participating in quality improvement, clinical practice improvement, meaningful use of electronic health records, and for effective management of resources, in a new single Value-Based Payment (VBP) program that will replace the current three separate Medicare reporting programs (Medicare PQRS, Meaningful Use, and Medicare Value Modifier programs).
    • The bill creates strong incentives for Patient-Centered Medical Homes (PCMHs) and other Alternative Payment Models to improve the quality and effectiveness of care provided to patients enrolled in Medicare.
  • The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), Community Health Centers (CHCs), and the Graduate Medical Education in Teaching Health Centers (THCs) would be reauthorized and guaranteed funding for two more years."

Addressing a much-talked about move, Dr. Fleming concluded the letter by saying, "Some have suggested that Congress could pass another temporary 'patch' to give the Senate more time to consider the bill. We strongly disagree. The SGR repeal and the other improvements that the bill makes in physician payment policies are based directly on policies that were agreed to last year by the Senate and House, Republicans and Democrats alike. Continued funding for CHIP, NHSC, CHCs, and THCs has strong bipartisan and bicameral support. After 17 SGR patches over 11 years, the last thing Congress needs is more time to pass legislation to repeal the SGR and reform physician payments."

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The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 141,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter and Facebook.

Contact: David Kinsman, (202) 261-4554
dkinsman@acponline.org