One-Year SGR Fix Still Cuts Specialist Pay

Congress passed a one-year patch for the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate yesterday — and President Obama signed the legislation— postponing a 24 percent cut in Medicare payments to physicians, but a provision used to pay for the $20 billion patch still implements severe payment cuts for some specialty services, according to an ASCA report.

The payment cuts come from services deemed "misvalued" within the Medicare physician payment system and are consistent with efforts to cut specialist payment while increasing the value of primary care services. The legislation was also paid for by increasing Medicare sequestration payment cuts for 2024 from 2 percent to 4 percent for the first six months and then dropping cuts to zero, according to the report.

Congressional leaders still hope to pass legislation that would repeal and replace the SGR with a new system estimated to cost $180 billion. ASCA opposed the temporary patch and supports full repeal.

The one-year patch legislation also includes a one year delay in ICD-10 implementation.

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