Senate Approves Legislation to Repeal SGR

Last night, on a bipartisan vote of 92 to 8, the Senate passed H.R. 2, the “Medicare Access and Chip Reauthorization Act,” or MACRA. Although six amendments were considered on the floor, none reached the threshold required for passage. As a result, the Senate-passed bill was identical to the version that passed the House by an overwhelming 392-37 margin on March 26. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law. Medicare should begin processing claims today for services provided in April at the rates that were effective before the 21% cut was scheduled to take effect. Under the provisions of H.R. 2, the fee schedule conversion factor will be increased by 0.5% on July 1, 2015, and by another 0.5% on Jan. 1, 2016. 

Under the new bill:

  • Physicians will receive a 0.5% fee increase in June and then an annual 0.5% starting on Jan. 1, 2016, through 2019. There is no increase from 2020 through 2025;
  • Physicians will be encouraged to begin shifting patients into value-based payment models – such as accountable care organizations, bundled-payment plans and medical homes – which could bring additional rate increases in 2026 and beyond;
  • There is a goal of achieving interoperable electronic health record systems by the end of 2018;
  • The Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) program is revised to include more incentives for improving quality of care; and
  • The Children’s Health Insurance Program is extended by 2 years with an additional $7.2 billion earmarked for community health centers.

The AMCNO and medical organizations across the nation have worked tirelessly for more than 15 years to achieve this change to the SGR formula. Thank you to all of our members who contacted your Senators and Representatives regarding H.R. 2. The AMCNO will continue to send additional information about this bill in the future.

The Pollen Line is now closed. See you in the spring!

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