WASHINGTON – The American Medical Association (AMA) today launched a grassroots campaign to urge Congress to reform the Medicare physician payment system. A key component of the campaign is a new interactive website, FixMedicareNow.org. It will empower physicians and patients to call on lawmakers to eliminate Medicare’s failed payment formula, known as the SGR, and move toward a 21st century health care system focused on patients, not payments. The new website features an interactive information portal that will house videos, online info-graphics and other resources that illustrate the need for Medicare reform.
“Physicians want to work with Congress to move past this broken payment formula and toward a Medicare program that ensures access to care, the best health outcomes for patients and a sustainable practice environment for physicians,” said AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven, M.D. “There’s strong bipartisan support for repealing the SGR, and I’m optimistic that Congress will pass legislation this year to help make Medicare better for America’s seniors.”
There is bipartisan agreement that the failed SGR formula threatens access to care and Medicare innovation. Physician payments are a small piece – only 16 percent – of Medicare spending, but physicians can help lower overall costs when given the flexibility to choose new models of care. The SGR is an obstacle to implementing this innovation.
The Congressional Budget Office has projected that the cost to eliminate Medicare’s failed SGR payment formula is about half the price of repeal last year. In August the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved a bill to repeal SGR, enhance health care quality and make new models of care delivery and payment available. The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee and the U.S. Senate Finance Committee also are expected to issue their own versions of the legislation this fall.
In 2012, the AMA and 110 other physician organizations developed principles for transitioning Medicare to include an array of payment models that allow physicians the flexibility to choose options that will help lower costs and improve the quality of care for patients.