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Conference Committee Holds First Meeting to Discuss SGR

January 27, 2012—The House-Senate Conference Committee Jan. 24 held its first meeting to negotiate an extension of the sustainable growth rate formula (SGR) “patch,” payroll tax holiday, and unemployment benefit provisions expiring at the end of February [see Washington Highlights, Jan. 6].

Republican Conference Committee Chair Dave Camp (Mich.) convened the meeting by pointing out the three issues he feels will be the greatest challenges facing the committee. He said that “the House, and only the House, has put forward a plan to extend for one year the payroll tax holiday, unemployment insurance benefits, and payments to doctors treating our nation’s seniors and those enrolled in Medicare.” He continued, “the second biggest issue we have before us—paying for these programs” and “the House legislation includes a number of critical reforms, job-creating provisions, and bipartisan measures to offset all of the spending. The Senate bill contains none of the reforms.”

Democratic Chair Max Baucus (Mont.) opened by saying, “We must pass as many of these provisions as possible for the remainder of 2012. Seniors, families, and businesses depend on them to pay their bills,” and proposed a “balanced solution.”

Members continued their opening statements with an overall consensus that these extensions are necessary and important for the economy.  Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) acknowledged the need to extend the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits, but singled out reforms to SGR, saying, “our focus there should not diminish the importance of finding a common sense, responsible agreement on how to move forward with the sustainable growth rate formula—the SGR—which determines how much doctors are paid to treat Medicare patients—and by extension, all patients.  This is about caring for our nation’s seniors—ensuring their access to quality, affordable health care.  That’s not an issue that should take a back seat or be compromised.”

The committee will meet again Feb. 1 to continue discussions.


Len Marquez
Director, Government Relations
Telephone: 202-862-6281


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Washington Highlights, a weekly electronic newsletter, features brief updates on the latest legislative and regulatory activities affecting medical schools and teaching hospitals.

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Jason Kleinman
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Telephone: 202-903-0806