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The Florida Society of Ophthalmology

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Medicine's Proposal for Permanent Physician Pay Fix Receives Mixed Reviews

An American Academy of Ophthalmology-supported proposal to pay for a permanent Medicare physician pay fix is gaining momentum, despite mixed reviews in two Congressional Budget Office reports. The Academy advocates paying the $300 billion cost to permanently repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula used to calculate Medicare physician pay with part of an $800 billion surplus in the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund. The surplus results from reduced spending for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. While the CBO acknowledges the large surplus in the fund, it says Congress must determine if those funds can be used to pay for the Medicare physician pay fix.

The Academy and a coalition of medical associations are joined by Reps. Dan Benishek, MD, R-Mich., and Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., in lobbying the joint U.S. House and Senate committee created to extend the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011, to permanently fix Medicare physician pay using the OCO surplus. Rep. Nan Hayworth, MD, R-N.Y., an ophthalmologist on the committee, this week said she is open to the proposal. Congress in December delayed a 27 percent Medicare physician pay cut caused by the SGR formula until March 1. The committee must come to an agreement by Feb. 17 in order for Congress to act in time to stop the cut.

The Academy strongly urges its members to lobby their legislators to sign on to a letter by Benishek and Crowley that asks the committee to consider permanently fixing Medicare physician pay using the OCO funds.




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