|After nearly 14 years of advocacy and 17 temporary “patches,” today, by an overwhelming vote of 392-37, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, which repeals Medicare’s sustainable growth rate (SGR) payment system. The legislation:
- Repeals the SGR, prevents the 21 percent Medicare pay cut and provides physicians a period of payment stability with positive updates;
- Consolidates the current Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), Electronic Health Record (EHR) and Value-Based Payment Modifier (VM) programs and eliminates the penalties associated with these programs;
- Includes positive incentives for quality improvement payment programs that allow all physicians the opportunity to earn bonus payments;
- Enhances the ability of physicians, rather than the government, to develop quality measures and clinical practice improvement activities;
- Clarifies that quality improvement program requirements do not create new standards of care for purposes of medical malpractice lawsuits;
- Reverses the CMS decision to eliminate the 10- and 90-day global surgery payments.; and
- Extends the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two years.
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration. At present, the Senate is unlikely to take up the bill before they adjourn for a two-week recess on March 27, 2015, but will do so upon their return in April. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that the agency can hold Medicare claims for two weeks before they are forced to process post-April 1, 2015 claims reflecting the 21 percent cut. The president has stated that he would sign this bipartisan legislation if it got to his desk, leaving the Senate as the last hurdle.
Neurosurgeons are, therefore, encouraged to contact their senators urging them to act now and repeal the SGR once and for all. Click here to send an email message to Congress via the AANS/CNS Legislative Action Center. We have created a letter that you can use as is or edit to add a personal touch (this is always recommended). It takes less than 5 minutes to let your voice be heard, so we hope you will act today!
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Katie O. Orrico, director of the AANS/CNS Washington Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the full post on Neurosurgery Blog: More than Just Brain Surgery.