ASNC Takes on SGR Reform in Testimony to Congressional Subcommittee

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The American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (ASNC) lent its voice to the sustainable growth rate (SGR) debate on May 7, making a case to repeal the SGR formula in favor of rewarding quality and value in patient care.

In testimony to the U.S. House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, Kim Allan Williams, MD, spoke in favor of alternative reimbursement and delivery models. “Appropriate Use Criteria (AUC) were developed by ASNC in partnership with several organizations in order to reduce the number of inappropriately ordered tests,” said Williams, ASNC past president and a current member of the Society’s Health Policy Steering Committee. “Decision support tools, such as guidance on the proper use of stress protocols and tracers, are important initial steps in quality imaging.”

To further ensure appropriateness and patient-centered imaging, ASNC is currently establishing the groundwork for the Cardiovascular Imaging Registry. Williams described the registry as “a natural progression of prior quality initiatives such as clinical application guidelines, imaging procedure guidelines, physician certification, lab accreditation, and AUC.”

“There appears to be consensus on the need for a period of stable payments, flexibility in the alternative payment models to follow, and the importance of quality metrics applicable to all specialties,” said Andrew McKinley, ASNC’s associate director of Health Policy. “The members of the subcommittee on Health appeared quite receptive to the fact that physician and specialty society input will likely lead to a solution which reflects the intricacies of clinical practice.”

Ultimately, McKinley believes lawmakers are growing weary of the “midnight hour” temporary fixes to the SGR. “ASNC hopes that Congress will reach agreement on a permanent solution in a timely manner—bipartisanship would assist this endeavor,” says McKinley who attended the hearing. “Moreover, we hope Congress looks beyond the Medicare program to fund SGR repeal. In our opinion, using the Medicare program to pay for SGR repeal and replacement merely ‘shuffles the deck’ and does little to enhance the integrity of Medicare.”

Prior to the hearing, House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex) stated that, “Reforming Medicare and eliminating the unworkable SGR formula is necessary to ensure our seniors have access to a strong Medicare program. This year we have an opportunity to repeal the SGR, provide predictability for physicians, and ensure seniors can see their local doctors...My hope is that we can put the days of kicking the SGR can down the road behind us.”