AAFP Applauds House Repeal of SGR, Calls on U.S. Senate to Act without Delay

Thursday, March 26, 2015

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

“Long-term health security for elderly and disabled Americans moved a major step closer to reality, thanks to the House of Representatives passage of the bipartisan H.R. 2, the Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act, or MACRA.

“The American Academy of Family Physicians applauds the House for its strong endorsement of MACRA and calls on the Senate to pass MACRA as soon as possible.

“For the first time in 12 years, true Medicare reform is feasible. HR 2 repeals the disruptive sustainable growth rate formula and restructures physician payment to help expand access, encourage quality improvements and spur innovation. It will push Medicare away from paying for the volume of services performed toward paying for the value of the health care provided. It stipulates a payment update increase of at least 0.5 percent annually for five years to stabilize the system while physicians transform their practices into models of care such as the patient-centered medical home. It consolidates three large federal programs that have different physician reporting requirements in an attempt to harmonize these programs and minimize their contradictory and expensive administrative burdens.

“The SGR has plagued Medicare patients for far too long. It’s destabilized their access to care and threatened the financial viability of their physicians’ practices for more than a decade.

“The Senate has an opportunity to end this dysfunctional and costly payment system now without resorting to yet another temporary patch.

“While not a perfect solution to health care delivery reform, MACRA resolves some of our health care system’s most pressing issues. It reinforces reliable access to better, more efficient care for elderly and disabled patients, and it preserves health coverage for our most vulnerable children. It continues progress in building the primary care physician workforce that forms the foundation of high quality health care:

by extending the Children’s Health Insurance Program, this bill ensures that children have uninterrupted coverage to health care;
by continuing funding for community health centers, HR 2 preserves access to care for 23 million patients who have inadequate or no health insurance as well as those who live in underserved areas;
by funding the National Health Service Corps, this bill maintains scholarships and loan repayments for medical students who choose primary care and provide services to those living in underserved areas;
by extending the Teaching Health Center GME program, HR 2 supports physician training in community-based settings, rather than in specialty-focused academic hospitals. This is a crucial step toward reforming the federal Graduate Medical Education program to include training in the settings in which family physicians practice and individuals receive most of their health care.

“This is not the time to stall. The health and well-being of too many Americans depend on passage of MACRA. The Senate must act without delay.”


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).