On December 19th, Senate Finance Committee Chair Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced S 1871, SGR Repeal and Medicare Beneficiary Access Act of 2013. Baucus’ bill would “amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to repeal the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula and…improve beneficiary access under the Medicare program.” The bill largely follows the SGR reform discussion white paper jointly developed by the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee and announced in November.
The bill’s provisions were discussed at the Senate Finance Committee hearing December 12, 2013, titled, “Consider an Original Bill to Repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate System and to Consider Health Care Extenders; and The Supporting At-Risk Children Act.”
In addition to repealing the SGR and improving Medicare payments for physicians' services, the proposed bill would tie payments to quality and efficiency, improve the traditional fee-for-service system by streamlining Medicare’s existing web of quality programs into one value-based performance program, ensure accurate payments for services, and encourage physicians to adopt proven practices of care. Additionally, the bill would incentivize movement to alternative payment models, focus more provider attention on coordination and prevention to improve quality and reduce , and would make Medicare data more transparent in order for patients to have access to the information to make informed choices and for providers to use the data to improve the care provided.