Tuesday, May 31, 2011

AMA Proposes Plan to Fix SGR Problem

Congressman and physician Bill
Cassidy stresses to APA members
the importance of doctors' being
involved in the political process.
Credit: Karen Layser
The AMA and APA are among the medical societies that have been calling for a major overhaul of the formula by which Medicare computes physician reimbursement fees. The current sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula has physicians in line for a 29.5% cut in 2012; such increases have been common in recent years, leading to last-minute, nail-biting dramas on Capitol Hill to pressure Congress to reverse the threatened cuts.

The AMA has now unveiled SGR replacement plans using a three-pronged approach, according to American Medical News: "(1) repeal the SGR, (2) implement a five-year period of positive Medicare payment updates based on practice costs, and (3) test and transition to multiple payment models designed to enhance the coordination, quality and appropriateness of care while addressing cost concerns."

The SGR was a major topic of discussion at APA's recent Advocacy Day 2011 event. (See http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/46/10/14.full). Advocacy Day brought 70 psychiatrists from 42 states to Washington, D.C., to learn advocacy skills and the fine points of policies and legislation about key health and mental health issues. As part of the event, participants conducted almost 250 Capitol Hill visits in one day, covering nearly half of Congress's 535 members.

APA will continue to lobby Congress to fix the Medicare physician reimubursement system. Watch Psychiatric News for updates.


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