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House Energy and Commerce Committee Passes SGR Repeal Legislation

August 2, 2013—The House Energy and Commerce Committee July 31 passed, 51-0, the Medicare Patient Access and Quality Improvement Act of 2013 (H.R. 2810). This legislation would repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula and move the Medicare physician payment system towards an enhanced fee-for-service model with payments linked to quality and innovation. The full committee markup was the latest in an ongoing series of activities focused on Medicare physician payment reform [see Washington Highlights, July 26].  

In a statement, AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., praised the committee’s efforts, saying, “This legislation represents a positive step in transitioning the Medicare physician payment system to one that rewards quality and innovation, as well as repeals the flawed SGR formula.”

Dr. Kirch also reiterated the AAMC’s position that “Congress should capitalize on this opportunity to address the physician workforce and ensure there are enough physicians to meet the needs of the rising number of Medicare beneficiaries.” 

Health Subcommittee Vice Chair Michael Burgess (R-Texas) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-N.J) offered one technical amendment to “further iterate policy intent,” primarily in the section on alternative payment methods. Rep. Burgess also stressed that stakeholder feedback was considered to “assure the language meet policy goals and generally improved the bill.”

In his opening statement, Energy and Commerce Chair Fred Upton (R-Mich.) expressed his dissatisfaction with the SGR, stating, “This legislation is long overdue. Since its passage in 1997, SGR has bred uncertainty and frustration. Doctors have been forced to endure 11th hour fixes, sometimes on a monthly basis, which have stymied physicians’ abilities to run their practices.”

Chairman Upton later thanked his colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their bipartisan effort, but recognized there is still work to be done regarding how to pay for the SGR repeal, saying, “The full committee vote will be an important milestone, but we are all resolved to achieve reform in a fiscally responsible manner, and despite our significant progress, we will not be satisfied until the ink is dry on the president’s signature.”

Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) echoed Chairman Upton’s appreciation of the bipartisan support for SGR repeal and highlighted the benefits of the legislation saying, “H.R. 2810 creates stability for the provider payment system at the same time as supporting greater accountability through quality measurement. Notably, this measurement not only looks at clinical care and outcomes, but also patient experience and whether beneficiary needs are being met.”


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

Courtney Summers
Senior Legislative Analyst
Telephone: 202-862-6042


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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
Sr. Legislative Analyst, Govt. Relations
Telephone: 202-903-0806