On Tuesday, May 14, 2013, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its May baseline projections, including a revised score for the cost of a 10-year freeze to physician payments under Medicare. Medicare currently reimburses physicians under a Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, which is widely viewed as broken. The SGR – or so-called “doc fix” – has plagued the health policy world for more than a decade.
CBO’s most recent score estimates that it would cost $139.1 billion to freeze physician payments for the next 10 years. This estimate is only slightly higher than CBO’s February estimate of $138 billion. (More information on the February estimate, as well as background information on the SGR, is available here.)
Within the last ten days both the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committees have held hearings regarding reforming the way Medicare pays physicians. Unless Congress acts by the end of the year, physicians who treat Medicare beneficiaries will face an estimated 25 percent cut to their Medicare reimbursement.