AAFP Praises Legislation to Repeal SGR, Stabilize Medicare

Friday, March 20, 2015

Statement attributable to:
Robert Wergin, MD
American Academy of Family Physicians

“The American Academy of Family Physicians applauds the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1470). This bill will provide health security to millions of elderly and disabled Americans by establishing consistent and predictable payment to physicians for the care they provide to this vulnerable population.

“Equally important, this bill extends two vital programs for two years: the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program. By extending CHIP, this bill will ensure the most vulnerable in our society — children in low-income families — receive care without interruption.  By continuing funding for the THCGME program, HR 1470 will continue progress in training more family physicians in community-based settings that often are the only source of care for people in underserved areas.

“By repealing the flawed Medicare sustainable growth rate formula, HR 1470 ends the disruptive last-minute ‘fixes’ that have been required to prevent mandated, double-digit cuts to physician compensation.

“In its place, a new alternative system will stabilize physician payment and -- more importantly -- support comprehensive and coordinated care through models such as the patient-centered medical home. Multiple studies have shown the PCMH improves the quality of care, reduces preventable hospitalizations and other intensive services, and helps lower the cost to the patient, the community and the health care system.

“We commend Congress for recognizing that change takes time and investment, and we’re pleased this bill provides support to physician practices as they redesign their business offices. The annual 0.5 percent payment increase for all physicians through 2019 and the technical assistance to small practices in rural, medically underserved and Health Professional Shortage Areas will provide much-needed stability as the health care system evolves.

“We’re hopeful that the consolidation of the performance reporting programs into a single Merit-based Incentive Payment System will produce administrative simplification.

“Altogether, these provisions stabilize Medicare, address the dual challenges of improved care and lower cost, and bring peace of mind to their elderly and disabled constituents.

“We call on Congress to act quickly and pass HR 1470. Lawmakers should not squander this opportunity to improve the quality of health care for their elderly and disabled constituents and simultaneously save billions of dollars in the Medicare system.”

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

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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 136,700 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the largest medical society devoted solely to primary care. Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.  To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.familydoctor.org(familydoctor.org).