A few weeks ago, a House subcommittee advanced a draft proposal to repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula. “No more kicking the can,” became the tag line for the effort. How about no more delays?
Numerous cardiovascular societies provided insight and guidance for the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee’s draft proposal, which passed 51-0. Some organizations voiced concerns with elements of the physician payment system that would replace the SGR, which the subcommittee said “would streamline the process to ease the administrative burden and provide certainty to Medicare physicians so their focus can lie solely on delivering the highest quality of care to America’s seniors.”
Many medical organizations also praised the overall bipartisan initiative while the subcommittee chairman, Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), declared, “The time of temporary fixes and kicking the can down the road has ended.”
With fractiousness the norm in Washington, the ability to move any legislation forward should be seen as welcome progress, and the fact that it was supported by both parties, unanimously, bodes well. On the other hand, this preliminary work, while very important, far from guarantees smooth passage by lawmakers. Or passage at all.
Just because the sound of the can rattling down pavement has faded into silence, the effort to ensure that the SGR is replaced with a sustainable system that is supported by sound policy should not stop. Self-interest, political posturing and the knee-jerk—or should I say, foot-jerk—temptation to boot the problem to the next year could yet again take hold.
The way to end kicking the can is by removing it. Until then, it runs the risk of being mere rhetoric. Is this the year the SGR becomes a thing of the past? Please share your thoughts.
Cardiovascular Business, editor