U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-Lewisville), told Texas medicine’s leaders he sees no permanent fix this year for Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. But, appearing at the TMA 2011 Advocacy Retreat via a Skype video call from his Capitol office, the only TMA member in Congress predicted “with 95-percent certitude” that “no cuts will happen” in physicians’ Medicare payments on Jan. 1.
Under current law, the SGR mandates a 27.4-percent cut when the new year begins. Dr. Burgess said he expects Congress will intervene at the last hour, again, stopping the cuts for two years with perhaps a small increase, while work for a permanent SGR replacement continues.
Meanwhile, the latest TMA survey says that almost half of Texas physicians are considering opting out of the Medicare program altogether, putting seniors, military families, and people with disabilities at serious risk of losing their doctor.
Given the partisan gridlock in Congress and the growing physician unrest, what can we do to replace the SGR with a formula that actually keeps up with the cost of seeing patients?
At TMA, we recognize the value that hospitals, nursing homes, home health services, durable medical equipment, and other health care providers give to Medicare patients. Over the past decade, they have received annual payment updates. Before any future updates are given to them, Washington needs to fix the broken physician payment system.
What do you think? Put your ideas in the comment box below, or tweet them to us, using the #MedicareMeltdown hashtag.
And while you're sharing your thoughts, have you seen our latest animated video, "Grandma & the Big, Bad SGR"? Take a look and let us know what you think. (We're quite proud of it.) Then share it with your colleagues, patients, family, friends, and staff. Use e-mail, Twitter, Facebook. Get the word out.