The ACC commended Reps. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) and Joe Heck (R-NV) for introducing the Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act that addresses the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula and explores new physician payment models. In addition to averting payment cuts, the proposal repels the SGR, ensures consistent payments during a multi-year testing period, and allows for a transition to new models.
"Stabilizing physician reimbursements for several years while new payment and delivery models are tested will provide needed certainty for physician practices. The ACC urges Congress to act as soon as possible to reform the physician payment system. We must move from a volume-based payment system toward one that rewards value," said ACC President William Zoghbi, MD, FACC.
However, in a letter to the sponsors, the College expressed some concerns about the proposal's mention of penalties for physicians who remain in fee-for-service and recommended extending the transition period or allowing for more exemptions. Additionally, the College recommended that all physicians providing office visits and other primary care services receive increased reimbursement payments, regardless of specialty.
Congress has intervened numerous times over the last decade to avert payment cuts associated with the flawed SGR formula. Last year, Rep. Schwartz initiated a sign-on letter addressed to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction that called for bipartisan action to permanently repeal the SGR and replace it with "a payment system that promotes efficiency, quality and value and ensures access to medical services for Medicare beneficiaries." Earlier this year, a temporary freeze went into place, delaying the scheduled 27 percent physician payment cuts for 10 months, until Jan. 1, 2013. This is one of many "Band-Aid" fixes over the last decade that continues to deepen the cost of permanent reform.
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