Senate Passes Historic Fix to Medicare
Today, Ohio ACEP and physician groups around the country applauded the Senate’s passage of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). The historic bill repeals Medicare’s flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) reimbursement formula and averts a 21% Medicare payment cut to providers.
For years, both parties in Congress have understood the need to fix the SGR. But up until Tuesday, lawmakers had been successful only in “punting” the issue by providing short-term patches.
In March, House Speaker John Boehner (R – OH) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D – CA) reached a deal to fix the SGR and replace it with a payment system that rewards quality, efficiency, and innovation. The bill also provides a two-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
When the deal between the House leaders was announced, physicians’ groups around the nation—including Ohio ACEP—mobilized to make sure Congress took advantage of the historic opportunity. The House’s overwhelming passage of the bill (392 in support; 37 opposed) was expected to put pressure on the Senate to approve the measure. However, as the Senate worked into the pre-dawn hours of March 27, on a separate plan to balance the budget, leaders announced the decision to delay a vote until after Congress’ two-week spring recess.
But the delay apparently did little to halt the bill’s momentum. The day after they returned from spring recess, Senators voted in favor of the legislation, 92 to 8. Next, the bill heads to President Obama, who has indicated he will sign it.