OCT 21, 2009
Update Nov. 19, 2009: The US House of Representatives today passed the Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act (H.R. 3961), 243 to 183. If the bill goes on to become law it will repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) physician payment formula and replace it with a new payment update system, providing physicians with the first Medical Economic Index update in seven years. Our analysis indicates the legislation would provide ophthalmologists with positive updates over the next five years, beginning in 2010.
Last week, as the White House and Congress set to work on combining into a single bill the House and Senate committee versions of health care legislation, the Academy got word that Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan, introduced a bill, S. 1776, that would permanently adjust the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. The SGR formula is the Medicare payment formula that for years has threatened to impose steep annual cuts in Medicare reimbursement rates.
For more than a decade, fixing the formula permanently has been a top priority for the Academy, the AMA, and other physician organizations. But this is the first time a permanent solution has been offered as a stand-alone bill.
Today the Academy learned that S. 1776 failed in the Senate by a vote of 47 to 53. The bill would have erased the 40 percent in cuts medicine faces today, including the 21 percent cut scheduled for Jan. 1, 2010.
Realizing that this is a disappointing but significant addition to the current health care debate, Dr. Karl Golnik, editor-in-chief of the ONE Network, sat down with Dr. David W. Parke II, the Academy's CEO and executive vice president, to talk about the remaking of health care in America and the significance of an SGR repeal.
Listen to the interview now.
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