The Senate passed yet another “patch” to the SGR today, for the 17th time i the last 11 years. This is disappointing in a year that appeared to promise bipartisan support for a permanent solution to the flawed formula that dictates Medicare payments. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law tonight, postponing the designated cuts in Medicare payments to physicians until march 2015.
There are two other provisions of the bill. One is a delay in the implementation of ICD-10. While this might be welcome for some physicians, ACP notes that many physicians have already expended significant time and resources to meet the existing October 2014 start date, and this does not nearly offset failure to act on SGR. Another provision repeals limits on deductibles for small group health plans, with the idea of giving small businesses flexibility similar to that in the individual markets. Essentially, this means that insurance carriers could offer small group coverage with any deductible up to the maximum out-of-pocket limits that were established for health savings accounts.
You can read a statement from ACP President Molly Cooke here. Included is a call for us to tell our legislators that this can’t be this Congress’ final word regarding SGR.