Effort to Tie SGR Repeal to Unrelated Issues Threatens Access to Care for Elderly and Disabled Americans

Monday, March 10, 2014

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

“The SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act is a bipartisan, bicameral effort to rectify a payment system that is both costly to the government and detrimental to the health security of elderly and disabled Americans. Failure to take advantage of this unique opportunity to repeal the SGR will contribute to the destabilization of the health care services offered to Medicare patients as Congress would once again scramble to temporarily avoid double digit cuts in Medicare physician payment through yet another ‘doc fix’ and would kick the can further down the road.

“Over the past year we have witnessed tremendous effort to develop a bipartisan policy solution that eliminates this failed payment formula and puts in place the levers to move our delivery and payment system in a new direction. It is disturbing that work designed to expand access to quality health care would be advanced alongside a policy that deliberately removes access to quality health care coverage. Providing access to health care coverage for millions of Medicare beneficiaries while eliminating access to health care coverage for millions more is simply poor public policy and we urge that such approaches be abandoned.

“Efforts to tie the SGR repeal legislation to partisan ‘pay-fors’ would consign this bill to failure in one or both chambers of Congress. We remain optimistic that Congress can accomplish the bipartisan legislative goal of repealing the SGR and we urge Congressional leaders not to squander this opportunity to achieve a major bipartisan accomplishment.

“We call on both parties in both chambers to continue the outstanding work that has produced the current version of the bill and to reach a timely agreement on a budgetary solution that will pass both the House and the Senate before April 1. Progress toward resolving the inefficient, expensive and harmful SGR formula should not be halted by extraneous issues.”

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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