Congress passes another one-month SGR reprieve

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Congress passes another one-month SGR reprieve

posted 12.01.10

It’s official: Congress has approved a one-month extension of Medicare physician payment rates, once again postponing a double-digit cut. The Senate passed the extension on Nov. 18. The U.S. House of Representatives came down to the wire, taking action Nov. 29. President Barack Obama signed the extension into law later that day. Had they not acted, a 23 percent cut would have gone through on Dec. 1.

The measure gives physicians a 2.2 percent increase over 2009 rates through Dec. 31. Come Jan. 1, however, a 25 percent cut will go into effect unless Congress acts to prevent it.

“This reprieve prevents practice disruption and financial challenge for physicians and instability in Medicare patients’ access to care,” said AAFP President Roland Goertz, M.D., M.B.A., of Waco, in a prepared statement. “But it’s only a very brief reprieve. In truth, physicians need at least 12 months to develop and implement stable business plans that assure elderly and disabled patients that care will be available when they need it. Furthermore, the nation needs a longer period to study models that build an efficient, effective physician payment system.”

AAFP continues to advocate on behalf of family physicians for a longer-term payment patch and a permanent fix to the SGR. To help the effort, download AAFP’s Medicare Action Toolkit and tell your congressional lawmakers to fix the flawed Medicare payment system.