Republican Committee Leaders Release Updated SGR Fix Draft

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The House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees on Friday released a more detailed version of their long-term proposal to remove the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula for setting Medicare physician reimbursement.

The leaders of both committees — Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) for Energy and Commerce and Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) — are pushing a “doc fix” plan that calls for the permanent repeal of the SGR, greater stability in physician payments and a transition to a payment system that would reward physicians for meeting certain performance and quality targets.

Of course, how those performance and quality targets will be determined and tracked is complicated and still being developed. In June, the ACR wrote to Rep. Upton and Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health, with answers to questions posed by the previous SGR-fix draft legislation and concerns from the radiology specialty perspective. Specifically, the ACR expressed concern that the proposed Update Incentive Program, which would reward some high-performing physicians with a better payment rate, would not be funded with new money and instead would simply lower the base pay to cover the incentive payments. That would transform the program from an incentive program into a penalty program where providers who fail to meet performance targets see their current base rate cut. (Read the letter.)

Comments on the new draft are due by July 9.