The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor of repealing and replacing the sustainable growth-rate (SGR) on Thursday, March 27 with a vote of 392-37. Following the passage by the House, it was immediately sent to the Senate, who was set to adjourn for a two-week recess the next day. The Senate declined to vote on the bill.
The most current SGR patch officially expired on April 1. However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is holding all claims submitted on or after April 1 for fourteen days. The Senate will take up the bill when they return the week of April 13, leaving only two days to pass the bill and prevent the 21% cut in physician reimbursement. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that Senators would “move it very quickly.”
The bill is expected to pass the Senate, but Senate Democrats are indicating that they may push for a limited number of amendments, such as the repeal of the $1,940 payment cap on therapy services that Medicare beneficiaries are currently subject to.
While it appears that the SGR repeal will pass, there is still a chance it could fail or the Senate’s vote may come later than April 14, which would force CMS to subject the claims it is holding to the 21% payment cut.
“It is extremely important for all stakeholders to reach out to their Senators and urge the passage the SGR,” said AANEM Health Policy Director Millie Birr, JD, MPP. “We created an ‘action alert’ which allows AANEM members to directly email their Senators a form letter with the option to modify the message.”
AANEM policy staff will continue its outreach efforts to the Senate and will update members as soon as more information becomes available.