More than 100 medical groups and societies, such as the American Medical Association and the Society of Hospital Medicine, sent a letter
(pdf) to the House Ways and Means Committee urging the sustainable growth rate be permanently fixed with savings accumulated from the withdrawal of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
If Congress does not fix the SGR by March 1, Medicare payments to physicians will be slashed by 27.4 percent. A two-year patch is estimated to cost $39 billion, while a one-year fix could cost half of that. The groups argued in the letter that using the war savings, which reach into tens of billions of dollars, could provide an opportunity to repeal the SGR altogether.
A full repeal of the SGR would cost more than $290 billion, according to current projections from the Congressional Budget Office. If another temporary SGR patch is enacted, the cost of full repeal would surpass $340 billion, and the next scheduled cut to physician payments would be 36 percent.
"Pushing off this problem continues this reckless pattern of spending billions of dollars only to make future cuts deeper and more expensive to solve," the groups wrote in the letter. "It is impossible to implement commonsense programmatic reforms while an immediate and constant threat of massive cuts hangs over [Medicare.]"
Related Articles on the Sustainable Growth Rate:
AHA, AAMC Urge Hospitals to Oppose Cuts in SGR Fix
Bipartisan Meetings Begin on SGR Fix, Payroll Tax Cuts
Rep. Nancy Pelosi: House Democrats May Push for One-Year "Doc Fix"