Congress Must Intensify Efforts to Permanently Repeal SGR

Monday, March 31, 2014

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

“With the Senate’s passage of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, HR 4302, Congress appears to be granting itself a reprieve from the critical task of repealing the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula that determines Medicare physician payment. But Congress’s work on this issue remains unfinished. Legislators must now intensify efforts to permanently repeal a formula that has plagued Medicare for more than 10 years. They need to make good use of the remaining months in this legislative session and pass the bicameral, bipartisan SGR repeal bill supported by every national physician organization, including the AAFP. Republicans and Democrats agree the SGR must be repealed. Their unprecedented effort to solve this issue must reach a conclusion in the 113th Congress.  .

“This 17th SGR patch that is now headed to the president’s desk does contain provisions supported by the AAFP. Family physicians welcome the new October 2015 start date for billing according to the highly complex ICD-10 system. And family physicians appreciate the economic predictability that comes with postponing the threat of Medicare payment cuts—cuts that would devastate physician practices and patient access—for a year.

“But these provisions, however helpful in temporarily easing family physicians’ administrative and economic concerns, do not absolve Congress from acting to repeal the SGR and tackle one of the most chronic and fundamental challenges in the Medicare program. The AAFP calls on both parties in the House and the Senate to continue their work to identify acceptable financing for SGR repeal and pass the bipartisan legislation. Congress must not retreat on its unprecedented progress in resolving an issue that has threatened elderly and disabled patients’ access to care for more than 10 years.”

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

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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 129,000 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

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