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Internal Medicine Physicians Say Doctors and Patients Must Hold Senate Accountable for Not Passing SGR Repeal

Senate failed to join House in passing historic healthcare improvements.

March 27, 2015

(Washington) The American College of Physicians (ACP) today said that it is greatly disappointed that the Senate recessed early this morning without passing legislation to prevent a devastating 21 percent Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) cut to all physician services provided to Medicare enrollees starting on April 1.

Early yesterday afternoon, ACP commended Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for reaching agreement on the policies included in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2) 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 said ACP strongly urged the Senate to immediately pass the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, H.R. 2.

This morning, though, Dr. Fleming said, "Doctors and patients must hold the Senate accountable for not passing SGR repeal and HR 2. They are allowing a 21 percent cut to go into effect on April 1. Furthermore, because the Senate didn't act, Congress has less than two days after recess to pass HR 2 and repeal the SGR before the 21 percent cut starts for April 1 claims."

Dr. Fleming noted that, "By not passing the bill, the Senate failed to 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  • The SGR would be repealed, once and for all, preventing the 21 percent SGR cut on April 1.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 payments 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 Graduate Medical Education in Teaching Health Centers (THCs) would be reauthorized and guaranteed funding for two more years."

"ACP urges the Senate to pass HR 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, immediately upon return from the recess, and before the 21 percent cut begins to be applied to services provided on or after April 1," Dr. Fleming concluded.

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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