Following years of advocacy and no less than 17 short-term, last minute fixes, the U.S. Senate on the evening of April 14 passed a bill to immediately repeal the SGR formula; Pres. Obama has said he will sign the bill as soon as it arrives on his desk. The U.S. House of Representatives passed it before leaving for the recent congressional recess.
The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act was adopted by the Senate in a vote of 92 to 8 just as a 21 percent cut to physicians’ Medicare payments was set to begin. Instead, the bill provides positive annual payment updates of 0.5 percent, starting July 1 and lasting through 2019. That means physicians will receive the 2015 update in July and receive another 0.5 percent on Jan. 1, 2016. Claims held for the first half of April will now be processed and paid at the rates in place before the 21 percent cut was scheduled to take effect.
While the bill supports physicians who choose to adopt new payment and delivery models, it also retains Medicare’s fee-for-service model. Participation in new models is entirely voluntary.
The ISMA thanks Indiana Sens. Coats and Donnelly for helping to pass H.R. 2. Access the bill here.
See the next ISMA Reports for more details.