Wednesday, March 25, 2015

House to Vote on Permanent SGR Fix

Drew Thies

The House Ways and Means Committee introduced a bipartisan permanent fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) Tuesday. The bill, H.R. 2, implements a new payment system for doctors that supporters hope will end the annual battle to fund short-term “doc fixes.”

The $210 billion dollar package based on last year’s bicameral effort to repeal SGR is expected to come up for a vote in the full House on Thursday. Both Speaker of the House John Boehner and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released a statement applauding the effort, suggesting the bill will receive broad bipartisan support in the House. The House will not be voting on an alternative short-term patch similar to those in the past.

The timeline for Senate passage is more tenuous. The Senate will vote on a Budget late Thursday night and potentially into early Friday morning, putting a potential SGR vote on the heels of a grueling “vote-o-rama,” as it is known. Because the Senate will take a two week holiday recess beginning Friday, this leaves a very short window of time for passage of a deal before the March 31st deadline.

If the Senate cannot pass the House package, they will have to either pass a short-term fix to be approved by the House or let the SGR expire, forcing CMS to hold claims until legislation is passed.

If a bill does not get passed, CMS will provide an update by April 11 “with more information about the status of congressional action to avert the negative update and next steps.”

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