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House Committees advance Medicare physician payment reform effort

On April 3, leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee outlined details of a proposal to repeal the current Sustainable Growth Rate system and replace it with a fair and stable system of physician payment in the Medicare program.

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Pitts, R-Penn., and Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, stated that, "Fixing the flawed SGR physician payment system is a top priority for the Committees on Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means. We recognize that the uncertainty over potentially devastating reimbursement cuts makes it difficult for practices to plan for the future. This uncertainty affects decisions to hire necessary staff and make investments in practice improvement."

They added, "We envision a system where providers have the flexibility to participate in the payment and delivery model that best fits their practice. The overarching goal is to reward providers for delivering high-quality, efficient health care, whether in a fee for service system or in an alternative payment model program."

The multi-phased proposal, which would eliminate the 24.4 percent across-the-board cut slated for January 2014 and any future SGR cuts, specifies a process to reward providers for high-quality and efficient care in the fee for service program. In addition, the proposal includes processes to determine quality and efficiency measures that focus on evidence while being flexible and specialty-specific; recognizes the role that specialty-specific registries play in facilitating quality improvement while minimizing provider participation burden; and addresses the need for timely performance feedback to allow providers to identify improvement opportunities and optimize incentive payments. more

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