Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bill to Delay ICD-10 and Sustainable Growth Rate Patch Passes House

Advocates on behalf of hospitals and practitioners were optimistic about the likelihood of a permanent 'fix' to the Sustainable Growth Rate for Medicare's physician reimbursement system. Members in both the House and the Senate introduced bills this session that would repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate in Medicare's physician payment formula. 

In a surprise development today the House passed the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, H.R. 4302, by voice vote. This bill does not provide a permanent fix, only a one year patch to the Sustainable Growth Rate. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Pitts of Pennsylvania, did not extend a fix for the SGR to physician-owned hospitals. Insiders agree that the cost of longer term bipartisan bills with permanent fixes to SGR were tabled because the parties were not able to agree on how to pay for the costs--about $140 billion over a 10 year period.  

Many on the hill expect the Senate to move this bill to a vote tonight. Speaker Harry Reid is said to be working on a deal to bring the bill to the floor. However, Senator Wyden is said to be pushing back on passing a bill with only a short term fix. Stakeholders following SGR legislation believe that if a temporary fix is passed the Congress will feel less pressure, and efforts to pass a permanent fix this year will fade into the background. 

The Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 also contains a provision to delay the ICD-10 meaningful use requirements until October 2015. CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner has repeatedly stated that the agency was not going to extend the ICD-10 meaningful use requirements. Many eligible practitioners and hospitals are concerned about being able to meet the deadline and have publicly appealed to the agency and Congress to extend the compliance deadline. 

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