11 Years, 16 Patches, $154 Billion: Congress Must Act Now to Repeal the SGR

Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014

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

“Today marks the 11th anniversary of Congress’s first attempt to ‘fix’ the flawed Medicare sustainable growth rate formula. During the past 11 (yes, 11!) years, we have witnessed 16 short-term ‘patches’ that have cost tax payers $154 billion (and yes, that’s billion). These so called ‘doc fixes’ have failed to stabilize Medicare payment and continue to erode the health security of elderly and disabled Americans.

“Now, Congress must focus its attention on two new and very important numbers: H.R. 4015 and S. 2000. It is time for Congress to pass the ‘SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act of 2014.’

“Taken together, the Ways and Means/Senate Finance committees’ proposed legislation moves toward comprehensive reforms that promise higher quality care and more peace of mind for the most vulnerable Americans. The proposal includes policies that will enable individual family physicians and primary care physician groups to move away from the current system toward more patient-centered, comprehensive reforms that promise greater efficiency, more care coordination, and less duplication and fragmentation.

“By encouraging physicians to build on the patient-centered medical home model and exploring alternative payment models, the proposal shifts focus away from delivery and payment models that foster episodic care, based on volume. Instead, it moves toward those that facilitate ongoing comprehensive care that reduces intensive medical and inpatient services, and focuses on rewarding value.

“We urge Congress to seize the opportunity before them to create a new and more stable health care infrastructure for the American people.

“The group of numbers referenced above, 11-16-154, sounds like a lottery number. It’s definitely not an efficient way for Congress to do business. Act swiftly. Act now. Repeal the SGR.”

Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Blackwelder, contact Janelle Davis, 800-274-2237, Ext. 5222, or jdavis@aafp.org.


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