The AAFP once again is calling on Congress to repeal and replace the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, after CMS released a 2013 Medicare physician payment rule that would slash physician payment by 26.5 percent on Jan. 1 because of the SGR.
In a prepared statement, AAFP President Jeffrey Cain, M.D., of Denver, said the 2013 fee schedule "once again focuses a bright light on the dysfunctional sustainable growth rate formula on which Medicare payment is based."
"It reemphasizes the imperative that Congress needs to permanently change the basis for calculating Medicare physician payment," said Cain.
He also called on Congress to "act immediately during the lame duck session to prevent this cut from going into effect on Jan. 1."
"And next year, Congress must permanently reform Medicare physician payment," he added.
The SGR has repeatedly called for steep reductions in the Medicare physician fee schedule during the past several years, reductions only averted by last-minute congressional action.
"Already, elderly and disabled patients' access to care has been threatened 14 times in the past decade while Congress has passed short-term fixes that do little to stabilize the system," Cain said. "This pattern must end."
He noted that CMS has "made a strong effort to rectify some of the worsening gap between payment to primary care physicians and subspecialists."
"We appreciate the fee schedule's inclusion of new payments for care coordination after hospitalization that CMS estimates would increase payments to family physicians by 7 percent," said Cain. "But a 26.5 percent cut in Medicare payment under the current system negates those gains."
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