Vote on 12-Month Medicare Bill Signals Breakdown In Progress Toward Permanent Repeal of Flawed SGR Formula

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Statement attributable to:
Reid Blackwelder, MD  
President
American Academy of Family Physicians

“Progress toward reforming Medicare’s physician-payment system has reached a disappointing impasse with the potential passage of a 12-month temporary fix rather than the bipartisan permanent solution to Medicare’s flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula. The AAFP deeply regrets the missed opportunity to permanently repeal a flawed Medicare formula that has plagued the health care system for more than 10 years. We urge Congressional leaders to immediately return to their bipartisan and bicameral efforts to finish the job.

“If enacted into law, this will be the 17th temporary delay of the SGR—at a cost of more than $160 billion—representing yet another instance of Congress “kicking the can down the road” rather than achieving a meaningful, permanent reform. After months of painstaking work, Congress is moving away from, rather than toward the goal. Congress’s continuing failure to repeal the SGR perpetually threatens access to Medicare services for millions of elderly and disabled Americans and continues the cycle of expensive, temporary delays in reform to Medicare physician payment.

“Republicans and Democrats in both chambers of Congress have agreed on a way to repeal and replace the seriously flawed SGR. They still have time to identify financing acceptable to both chambers and the White House and pass the policy platform supported by both parties and interested stakeholders. We call on Congressional leaders to return to the table, find an agreement on unresolved issues, and pass an SGR repeal bill that preserves beneficiaries’ access to care, stabilizes the Medicare physician-payment system, and helps ensure high-quality health care.

“Our country and, specifically, our Medicare patients expect and deserve this effort at this time. The time to repeal the SGR is now.”

Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Blackwelder, contact Leslie Champlin, (800) 274-2237, Ext. 5224, or lchampli@aafp.org.

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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 115,900 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

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