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The Florida Society of Ophthalmology

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Medical Coalition Increases Pressure on Congress for a Permanent Medicare Physician Pay Fix

The Academy, along with a coalition of nearly 70 national and state medical associations, is increasing pressure on Congress for a permanent Medicare physician pay fix. The coalition is stressing that now is the time to permanently repeal Medicare's sustainable growth rate formula (SGR). The joint U.S. House and Senate committee created to extend the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011 met for the first time Tuesday to consider extending the legislation, which provided a two-month SGR fix that expires Feb. 29.

The medical associations contend that savings in the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund, resulting from reduced spending for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, could be used to pay for a full SGR repeal. While some Republican members of Congress have criticized using the OCO savings as a budget “gimmick,” the associations contend that using the savings to pay for the SGR repeal is a viable option. The groups believe doing so would allow for a more accurate accounting of future government expenditures without increasing the federal deficit. The hospital lobby has also joined the call for permanent repeal of the SGR formula using OCO funds.

Senate Democratic leaders are indicating a 10-month Medicare physician pay fix is likely, pushing the issue into a lame-duck session after the November election. The cost to permanently repeal the SGR increases with each temporary fix. The House, on Tuesday, approved a motion instructing committee members to deliver a proposal to extend the legislation by Feb. 17. Physicians face a 27 percent Medicare pay cut on March 1 if Congress does not act. The Academy continues to strongly urge its members to lobby their legislators for passage of a permanent SGR solution using tools on the Academy's website. Ophthalmologists last year sent more than 8,500 letters urging members of Congress to fix Medicare physician pay.




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