American College of Physicians reacts to Congressional agreement affecting devastating impact on federal healthcare programs.
Statement attributable to:
Molly Cooke, MD, FACP
President of the American College of Physicians (ACP)
December 11, 2013
(Washington) - The American College of Physicians is greatly encouraged by the bipartisan budget conference agreement, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (BBA), announced by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray. ACP welcomes the BBA's relief from sequestration for vital health care programs in fiscal year 2014 and believes it is a true step in the right direction. Across-the-board sequester cuts in 2013 had a devastating impact on federal healthcare programs, including federal health workforce programs, medical research and public health programs. The BBA provides much-needed respite from sequestration, restoring about $23 billion or almost two-thirds of the scheduled sequestration cuts for nondefense discretionary programs in FY2014.
In addition, with an overall topline budget number for FY2014, the BBA would afford a clear pathway for Congress to replace the harmful 2013 sequestration cuts with passage of appropriations bills through regular order. ACP urges congressional appropriators to prioritize funding for the nation's health workforce in the Title VII Health Professions and Title VIII Nurse Education programs, medical research at the National Institutes of Health and public health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ACP is hopeful that this bipartisan compromise will lead to funding certainty for these and other programs and also bring needed reinvestment in important healthcare programs.
The budget conference agreement is also expected to have an amendment that provides a necessary three month bridge to avert a near-25 percent Medicare physician payment cut on Jan. 1, 2014 resulting from the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, replacing it with a positive update of 0.5 percent. This measure will allow Congress time to complete work early next year on comprehensive legislation to repeal the Medicare SGR formula, which is being considered by the Senate Finance and Ways and Means committees on Thursday.
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 137,000 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.