HCN News & Notes

MMS President Praises House Passage of Medicare Payment Bill

WALTHAM — Mass. Medical Society President Dr. Richard Pieters praised the recent 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 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.

Pieters said the vote to pass the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act is “a critical first step in establishing stability for nearly 20,000 physicians in the state, removing uncertainty about healthcare for more than 1 million Medicare beneficiaries and 72,000 military families and veterans, maintaining healthcare for more than 8 million children through the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and providing continued funding for the nation’s community health centers.”

Pieters said the bipartisan effort by the House has “captured the rare opportunity to erase a problem that has disrupted our healthcare 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.”

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

“The prospects for a permanent solution to the flawed payment formula have never been better to protect the healthcare of seniors and veterans and support the viability of physician practices,” Pieters said. “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, resulting in 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{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5}.

In addition to supporting physician practices and eliminating the fear that seniors have of losing their physicians, Pieters said the bill would also bring economic benefits to the Commonwealth. With healthcare being the state’s largest industry, employing more than 530,000 employees, or 16{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} 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 healthcare services.

Comments are closed.