Showing posts with label Congress; Medicare. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Congress; Medicare. Show all posts

Feb 9, 2014

Call Today! SGR Repeal Closer Than Ever

Late last week the "SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act of 2014" (H.R. 4014/S. 2000), was introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Its author is U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-Lewisville). It features the handiwork of Rep. Kevin Brady (R-The WoodlandsAnd it has the support of key congressional leaders from both parties and in both chambers.

"We may not get this opportunity again," said TMA President Stephen L. Brotherton, MD. "Take action now to support permanent SGR repeal."

The three key congressional committees involved have come to this bipartisan, bicameral agreement in advance of the March 31 deadline when physicians' Medicare payments will be cut by 24.1 percent. It incorporates many Texas Medical Association-supported recommendations to reform the physician payment system and improve care for Texas seniors, military families, and people with disabilities. This legislation would provide physicians with positive annual payment updates of 0.5 percent for five years. (While these updates won't keep up with physicians' cost of providing health care to Medicare patients, the cumulative 2.5-percent update is larger than all of the increases Congress has provided in the past 12 years, combined.) It also includes important medical liability reform protections and significant financing and tools to help us adopt new payment and delivery models.

"Congress is now closer than it ever has been to enacting fiscally prudent legislation that would permanently repeal the SGR, "Dr. Brotherton said. "That will happen only if Washington hears our loud voice. Please contact U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and your U.S. representative today."

Physicians can send an email through TMA's Grassroots Action Center, and call lawmakers via the American Medical Association's Physicians Grassroots Network hotline at (800) 833-6354.

Here are the key points to stress:

  • For at least 12 years, members of Congress have told us how serious they are about reforming the Medicare physician payment system. Now that a bipartisan, bicameral policy has been developed, it is time to stop talking about the problem and seize the opportunity to solve it.
  • Congress must vote as soon as possible in support of a fix that will permanently repeal the flawed Medicare SGR formula.
  • Congress must avoid continuing the fiscally irresponsible cycle of short-term patches that contribute to the Medicare's program instability and do nothing to solve the underlying problem.
  • Congress must ensure that practicing physicians lead the development of the alternative payment models and quality incentive programs established in this bill.

"Please call or write today," Dr. Brotherton said. "We may not get this opportunity again."

Mar 21, 2013

TMA Calculates Impact of Medicare Fee Cut

Medicare payments to physicians will drop 2 percent on April 1 because of the federal budget sequester. TMA's Payment Advocacy Department analyzed the impact of the fee reduction and compiled a list of answers to questions you may have.

Here is an example of how the fee cut would affect payment for a service with a Medicare fee schedule amount of $100:

Nov 20, 2012

AMA gears up for lame duck session and fiscal cliff negotiations

The American Medical Association began laying the groundwork for negotiations in the lame duck session to deal with the “fiscal cliff” in 2010 by urging the Simpson-Bowles Commission to include a permanent repeal of the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula in its budget deficit proposal. Last month, the AMA led an effort to outline principles for transition to a new Medicare payment system that was endorsed by 48 states and over 60 national specialty societies. Congress has heard repeatedly from the AMA and other physician groups on the need for action to avert the 27 percent SGR cut on Jan. 1 and the additional 2-percent sequestration cut that will occur as a result of a previous failure to reach agreement on a deficit reduction package.

While there is a great of deal of uncertainty regarding how Congress and President Obama will address the “fiscal cliff,” the AMA is poised to deal with a range of scenarios. Many observers anticipate a two-step process in which an initial deficit reduction package is enacted during the lame duck session that prevents SGR and sequestration cuts. This would include or be accompanied by a framework for a larger deficit reduction package to be finalized next year.

At the onset of the process, the AMA’s objectives are:

  • Avert looming SGR and sequestration cuts
  • Permanent repeal of the SGR and transition to new Medicare payment system that rewards physicians for high-quality care and savings across the delivery system
  • Medical liability reforms to reduce the cost of defense medicine
  • Preserve investments in graduate medical education, research, public health and prevention

The AMA will engage state and national medical societies, as well as individual patients and physicians, throughout the negotiations through grassroots alerts, various AMA communications channels and Federation conference calls.

Feb 29, 2012

Bills Would Repeal IPAB

With Medicare's Sustainable Growth Rate still in effect, the U.S. House of Representatives is considering legislation to repeal another federal mechanism to drive down Medicare payments to physicians – the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Created by the Affordable Care Act, IPAB is a 15-member panel appointed by the president that would recommend cuts in fees to physicians if federal spending on health care reaches certain levels.

Feb 14, 2012

Tell Congress to Fix the SGR

It's SGR crunch time again. In about two weeks, the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula will drive a 27.4-percent cut in physicians' Medicare payments unless Congress steps in first. Hopes that Washington would finally repeal the SGR seem to wax and wane daily, as the issue is tied up with the partisan debate over extending Social Security tax cuts and extending unemployment benefits.

One thing we know for sure is that members of Congress react to real stories from their constituents far more than to form letters or emails. You have an excellent story to tell. You know what the constant threat of the Medicare Meltdown has meant to your patients and your practice. Please pick up the phone today and share your story with Sens. John Cornyn (202) 224-2934 and Kay Bailey Hutchison (202) 224-5922, and your representative. See the TMA Grassroots Action Center for the number.

Jan 31, 2012

Use War Money for Medicare

Texas Medical Association joined the American Medical Association and dozens of other state and national medical organizations in urging Congress to permanently stop the fiscally irresponsible cycle of scheduled cuts and short-term patches to Medicare physician payments.

In a letter to U.S. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Michigan), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, physician groups called for an end to the failed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula that threatens access to care for seniors and military families in the Medicare and TRICARE programs. They asked Congress to use projected spending that will not be needed as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down to help pay for ensuring access to health care for military and seniors.

Dec 6, 2011

Dialogue: How to Save Grandma from the Big, Bad SGR?

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.

Dec 1, 2011

Grandma and the Big Bad SGR!

A huge Medicare cut looms for doctors and Medicare patients. Who might that affect? People like grandma - and those who love her, as the child in this video shows.

Unless Congress acts, on Jan. 1 doctors who care for Medicare patients face a 27.4-percent pay cut, because of a flawed funding formula called the SGR. Then millions of seniors (like grandma) and people with disabilities -- and military families whose insurance is TRICARE -- might have trouble finding a doctor's care.

Oct 8, 2011

Stop the Medicare Meltdown


The Texas Medical Association unveils new statewide physician survey data showing the devastating adjustments to their practice physicians would be forced to make if Congress does not act by January. Only Congress can avert the almost 30-percent cut in Medicare doctor payments scheduled for Jan. 1. Unfortunately, Medicare patients — senior citizens and people with long-term disabilities — and Tricare patients from military families are likely to have coverage but not a physician of their choice.

Physicians: Contact Congress Now:
Contact Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison and your U.S. Representative today. Tell them that no other health care provider or pharmaceutical should get another payment increase until Washington fixes the broken physician payment system.
News Coverage:
Twitter: Get in the conversation now, hashtag #MedicareMeltdown
    Facebook: Share the story with your friends, colleagues, patients

    Aug 15, 2011

    TMA, AMA: Change Medicare Data Reporting

    Public reports on Medicare and private payer data must be valid, reliable, and actionable, the Texas Medical Association, the American Medical Association, and 80 other physician organizations told the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in comments on Medicare's proposed rules for reporting performance measurement data.

    Feb 11, 2011

    Tromping Around Capitol Hill for Patients and Physicians

    Left to right: Joe Annis, MD; Russ Kridel, MD;
    Dr. Bailey; U.S. Rep. Bill Flores (R-Corpus Christi),
    and Les Secrest, MD 

    TMA physician leaders and public affairs staff were in Washington, DC, along with colleagues from around the nation most of the week. They met one-on-one with U.S. representatives and senators to discuss the Sustainable Growth Rate and issues relating to the new health law. The SGR remains a critical issue. By the end of the year, physicians are looking at a cut of 30-percent or more to their Medicare payments. "Congress needs to be working now on a plan to ensure stability in the program to protect patients and their physicians," said TMA President Sue Bailey, MD.

    Read about the other issues discussed at Capitol Hill: "Affordable Care Act: Find What's Missing, Keep What Works, Fix What's Broken."