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Schneidewind testifies before Congress on 'doc fix'

WASHINGTON, DC—In testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health today, AARP advocated for a permanent solution to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, also known as the “doc fix”, used to reimburse doctors and other providers in the Medicare program.

  “Permanently repealing the sustainable growth rate formula will bring stability and predictability to health care providers and the Medicare beneficiaries they serve,” said AARP President-Elect Eric Schneidewind who testified before the committee. “We applaud the move away from fee-for-service and toward more coordinated care; the streamlined quality reporting system; the greater use of quality measurement; and greater data transparency, among other improvements.”

Schneidewind is the former State President of AARP Michigan.

 Under current law, Medicare updates physician fees using a method called the SGR which was designed to keep spending in line with an overall target. Since 2002, spending on physician services has exceeded the flawed SGR target, triggering reductions in physician updates which have been repeatedly addressed. However, regular threats to reimbursement rates have caused providers to consider not accepting Medicare patients, and caused Medicare beneficiaries to fear losing access to their provider. In addition, plans to offset the cost of SGR reform have often included significant cost-shifts onto beneficiaries.

 In his testimony before the Committee, Schneidewind reiterated AARP’s position that any SGR proposals should not include shifting costs onto Medicare beneficiaries through higher cost-sharing or reduced benefits. AARP also strongly urges inclusion of the following “health extender” protections for Medicare beneficiaries in any SGR repeal legislation:

 Make the Qualifying Individual Program that pays Part B premiums for Medicare beneficiaries with annual incomes between $14,000–$15,750 permanent;

  • Repeal the Medicare payment caps on therapy for people with long-term, chronic health conditions; and
  • Make funding for critical community-based resources permanent.

“AARP firmly believes that any discussion of offsets to pay for Medicare reimbursement reform must include savings from prescription drugs,” added Schneidewind. “We urge you to give strong consideration to…prescription drug proposals that could save as much as $150 billion—savings that could almost fully offset the cost of the SGR fix.”

  Click here to read AARP’s full testimony.

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