Massachusetts Medical Society President Praises House Passage of Medicare Payment Bill

Contact: Richard Gulla
781-434-7101
rgulla@mms.org 

Waltham, Mass. – March 26 – Massachusetts Medical Society President Richard S. Pieters, M.D., today praised the passage of the Medicare payment reform act by the U.S. House of Representatives, with a particular note of appreciation to members of the Massachusetts House Congressional delegation for their votes in favor of the bill. The bill passed by an overwhelming margin of 392-37, with all Massachusetts representatives voting for the bill. 

Dr. Pieters said the vote to pass the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act House is “a critical first step in establishing stability for nearly 20,000 physicians in the state, removing uncertainty about health care for more than one million Medicare beneficiaries and 72,000 military families and veterans, maintaining health care for more than eight million children through the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and providing continued funding for the nation’s community health centers.” 

Dr. Pieters said the bipartisan effort by the House has “captured the rare opportunity to erase a problem that has disrupted our health care system for more than a decade. We congratulate and thank the Massachusetts House delegation, which has been firm in their support of reform all along.”   

Dr. Pieters noted that President Obama has indicated he is ready to sign the bill; all that awaits now is approval by the Senate.

“The prospects for a permanent solution to the flawed payment formula have never been better,” said Dr. Pieters, “to protect the health care of seniors and veterans and support the viability of physician practices. Passage of this bill will restore stability and remove uncertainty in a program that benefits more than 49 million Americans, and we urge the Senate to follow the lead of the House.”   

For the last 13 years, the formula used to pay physicians who care for Medicare patients -- the Sustained Growth Rate (SGR) formula which was based on the nation’s economic growth -- has called for reductions in payments to physicians, and each year, Congress has provided a “patch” as a temporary solution. They’ve created no less than 17 such “patches” in 13 years. 

Without a solution, the formula calls for yet another cut to physician reimbursements on April 1, this one more than 21 percent. 

In addition to supporting physician practices and eliminating the fear that seniors have of losing their physicians, Dr. Pieters said that the bill would also bring economic benefits to the Commonwealth.  With health care being the state’s largest industry, employing more than 530,000 employees, or 16 percent of the state’s workforce, he said repealing the formula would prevent a loss of some $300 million this year for the care of elderly and disabled patients in the state, save jobs, and maintain health care services.  

The Massachusetts Medical Society, with more than 24,000 physicians and student members, is dedicated to educating and advocating for the patients and physicians of Massachusetts. The Society, under the auspices of NEJM Group, publishes the New England Journal of Medicine, a leading global medical journal and web site, and NEJM Journal Watch alerts and publications covering 13 specialties. The Society is also a leader in continuing medical education for health care professionals throughout Massachusetts, conducting a variety of medical education programs for physicians and health care professionals. Founded in 1781, MMS is the oldest continuously operating medical society in the country.

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