New bipartisan plan to change Medicare’s physician payment plan gains support

New bipartisan plan to change Medicare’s physician payment plan gains support

A new plan could change the payment plan currently in place.

A new plan, which would change the way that Medicare pays physicians, is gaining support from bipartisan leaders on Capitol Hill.  The bipartisan leadership, which consists of three Senate and House committees, hopes to repeal the current system, which sets Medicare physician payment rates according to a formula developed in 1997.

The current formula is based on economic growth, also known as the sustainable growth rate (SGR), and is designed to pay physicians based on the amount of care they provide.  The new piece of legislation, however, would pay physicians based on the quality of care they provide patients.  According to the new plan, physicians would receive a .5% increase for each of the following years as the plan would transition to the new payment model.

“This legislation today provides stability for physicians so they will no longer face the uncertainty of massive cuts, but also begins the process of improving how we pay for medical care to focus on positive results for seniors.” Said Dave Camp, Ways and Means Committee Chairman.

Along with the introduction of the new plan, the Senate also confirmed Max Baucus as the new U.S. Ambassador to China.  Baucus places a large emphasis on fixing the SGR in his policies.  “Congress has spent a decade lurching from ‘doc fix’ to the next, creating a new, unnecessary threat to seniors’ care each time.  Enough is enough.  This proposal would bring that cycle to an end and fix the broken system.” Baucus said in a statement.

Though the plan does not mention how the package will be funded, organizations like the American Medical Association immediately welcomed the comprimise.  AMA president Ardis Dee Hoven stated, “Congress has been debating the shortcoming of the SGR policy for more than a decae.  It is time for action to repeal the SGR and establish a transition to a new more stable Medicare physician payment policy to better serve America’s senior citizens.”

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