On Wednesday, July 31, 2013, by a vote of 51-0, the full House Energy and Commerce Committee passed H.R. 2810, legislation that would repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula and impose a new mechanism by which Medicare would reimburse physicians and other health care professionals. Background information on the SGR is available here and more information on the legislation as passed out of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee is available here.
While the legislation enjoys bipartisan support, it is important to note that there currently are no provisions on how to pay for the cost of the legislation. Earlier this year, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated a ten year freeze to physician payments would cost $139.1 billion. While an official CBO score on H.R. 2810 has not been made available, the legislation is expected to cost significantly more than $140 billion.
Before the full House of Representatives votes on the legislation, the House Ways and Means Committee (which has joint jurisdiction with the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Medicare Part B issues) is expected to release its own version of the legislation. The Senate Finance Committee also will work on legislation to address this issue.
Unless Congress acts by the end of the year, physicians who treat beneficiaries will face an estimated 25 percent reduction in their Medicare reimbursements.