Permanent “Doc Fix” Passes Senate
Late Tuesday, April 14, the U.S. Senate approved a bill to permanently end the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula that annually cuts physician Medicare reimbursement. The bill is headed to the president’s desk where it is expected to be signed.
The bipartisan legislation, which passed by a vote of 92 to eight, effectively puts an end to 17 years of short-term “doc fixes” and will prevent a 21.2% cut in payments to doctors one day before it was set to take effect. The bill also establishes a new payment system for doctors that attempts to transition Medicare to a comprehensive value-based health program. The new two-track payment system is designed to encourage doctors to transition their patients into more risk-based payment models.
The bill also provides for $7.2 billion in funding for community health centers and extends the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) by two years. It also features several provisions that will effect health care providers, including a six-month delay of the “two midnights” payment policy for short hospital stays. Modern Healthcare provides more details on the bill here.