House to Vote on Repeal of the Affordable Care Act; Hearings Continue on Medicare Payment Reform
The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on H.R. 45, legislation that would repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The repeal is expected to pass the House, but is not expected to be taken up by the Senate, which is controlled by the Democrats. Therefore this is more of a symbolic vote for the House, which is controlled by the Republicans. The House has voted more than 30 times to repeal all or parts of the law since it was passed in March 2010. The law is in its final stages of implantation before 2014, so many Republicans want to have another opportunity to debate its flaws and vote to repeal.
One repeal that both Republicans and Democrats can agree on is the need to repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula used to calculate physician payment updates under Medicare. Both the House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over Medicare have been conducting hearings to examine transitioning physicians to a more value-based system that rewards physicians for quality outcomes and efficiency of care. Most of the witnesses agreed that our payment system needs to improve care coordination, quality and efficiency. Both committees have sought input from physician stakeholder groups on experience with quality improvement programs and ways to transition physicians to a new payment model. Review AGA’s letter to the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee.
The Ways and Means Committee is currently crafting a proposal with the goal of marking up a bill this summer. All parties agree that Congress must move on repealing the SGR since the Congressional Budget Office scored the repeal at $113 billion, more than half of what the estimate was last year, before the estimate increases.
The AGA will continue to monitor this critical issue to gastroenterologists and will continue to provide input to the committees as they craft their proposals on Medicare payment reform.