On April 16, President Obama signed a bill repealing Medicare's sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula and transitioning to a new value-based payment system.
The Senate voted 92-8 to pass the legislation, known as the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), on April 14, and it had already passed the House by a vote of 392-37 on March 26.
The new legislation prevents a 21% cut in Medicare reimbursements and provides annual payment increases of 0.5% for 4.5 years, through 2019. It also provides physicians in alternative payment models a 5% bonus over nonparticipants between 2019 to 2024, offers incentives for becoming certified as a patient-centered medical home, and consolidates current quality incentive and payment programs into a new program. Funding has also been authorized for the development of quality standards and continued for the National Health Service Corps, Community Health Centers, Teaching Health Centers, and the Children's Health Insurance Program.
“We all witnessed something quite extraordinary and historic today,” ACP President David A. Fleming, MD, MA, MACP, said in a statement issued after the Senate vote. “Physicians and their patients no longer will have to be concerned with impending yearly payment cuts as a result of the flawed SGR formula and no longer will this burden of uncertainty be hanging over physician practices. Equally important, the legislation provides strong incentives for physicians to engage in activities to improve quality; streamlines existing quality reporting programs; and provides additional support to physicians who participate in Patient-Centered Medical Homes, and other alternative payment models, shown to improve outcomes and the effectiveness of care provided.”
Dr. Fleming's complete statement is available online.