Eliminating SGR Essential to Reforming Medicare, Experts Say

Eliminating the sustainable growth rate formula is an essential step in reforming Medicare, health policy observers told a Senate panel on Oct. 12, according to an American Medical News report.

The Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing to receive suggestions on fixing Medicare. Congress is currently throwing around ideas to sent to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, tasked with decreasing future deficits by $1.2 trillion.

Delaying repeal of the SGR would be more costly to the Medicare program that eliminating it, even though elimination will cost around $300 billion, the advisors said.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, PhD, president of American Action Forum, said patients will lose access to their physicians if SGR is not fixed. Since 2003, Congress has delayed cuts to Medicare rates, gradually increasing the severity of SGR reductions every year until the cuts sit at 29.5 percent for 2012.

Senators acknowledged the need for a permanent solution, saying that the current policy amounts to little more than placing a Band-Aid on the problem every year.

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