Fix Medicare Now: Don't Patch It, Repeal It!

Fix Medicare Now Later this week, the U.S.  House leadership intends to schedule a vote on SGR repeal legislation (H.R. 4015). The budget offset will be repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) individual mandate. This will yield savings because it is expected that fewer lower-income individuals and families will enroll in insurance plans and so will not require federal premium subsidies. This offset is known to be unacceptable both to Senate Democrats and to President Obama.

We understand that House leadership is planning a floor vote to pass a temporary SGR patch, perhaps for nine months, during the last week of March after Congress returns from a recess scheduled for the week of March 17.

While the AMA remains engaged in discussion with Senate leadership, the legislative pathway there has not yet been established. However, we know that leaders in both chambers are reluctant to schedule votes on controversial budget offsets prior to the fall elections.

The selection of the individual mandate repeal as a spending offset is unfortunate, because it shifts what has been a bipartisan effort into partisan territory.  We strongly urge House and Senate leaders to pursue bipartisan solutions to enacting SGR repeal and physician payment reform legislation. Only through bipartisan agreements will pending legislation become law.

Ronald W. Dunlap, MD, MMS President, said, "Just as Congress developed a bipartisan, bicameral bill to repeal the SGR permanently, we call upon Congress to find a bipartisan, bicameral solution to pay for this legislative proposal.  Anything short of this will ultimately fail.  Medicare and Tricare patients, as well as the physicians who care for them, are counting on a real and workable resolution to this more than decade old problem."

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