AAFP: Passage of SGR Reform Should Be First on Senate’s List in April

Thursday, March 27, 2015

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

“The U.S. Senate should make passage of the bipartisan H.R. 2, the Medicare and Chip Reauthorization Act, its first priority when senators return to Washington in mid-April. The American Academy of Family Physicians is disappointed the Senate failed to pass this vital reform legislation before adjourning for two weeks.

“Medicare payment reform is central to ensuring millions of elderly and disabled Americans have access to the health care they need. For more than a decade, their health security has depended on Congress’s short-term patches to override the double-digit physician payment cuts mandated by the seriously flawed Medicare sustainable growth rate formula. Without Congressional intervention, those cuts would have forced doctors to choose between providing care or putting their practices at serious financial risk.

“H.R. 2 dismantles that disruptive, dysfunctional system. It puts in place a structure that stabilizes Medicare payment and moves toward payment that values the quality of care, not the quantity of services. The legislation will result in a health care system that focuses on wellness and prevention, that helps avoid complications of existing conditions, and that contributes to efficiency in delivering health services.

“Moreover, the bill extends the Children’s Health Insurance Program for two years and preserves funding for crucial community health centers that serve vulnerable Americans, particularly in rural and underserved areas. It continues to invest in building the primary care physician workforce by extending funds for the National Health Service Corps and the Teaching Health Centers Program. Both of these encourage medical students to become primary care physicians who practice in the community, particularly in areas that currently have limited access to needed health care.

“All of these provisions are instrumental in resolving access challenges for America’s most vulnerable children, elderly and disabled voters, and uninsured and under-insured constituents.

“The U.S. Senate has the opportunity to make a historic reform to a system on which millions of Americans depend. The time to act is now. The House has provided an overwhelming bipartisan vote of approval. The Senate should do no less and should do so as quickly as possible. Americans have already waited 12 years for this vote.”

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 American Academy of Family Physicians represents 136,700 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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