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ACR Applauds Congress for Repealing Medicare's Sustainable Growth Rate

American College of Rheumatology Applauds U.S. Congress for Passing Historic Medicare Physician Payment Reform Legislation

ATLANTA — The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) today praised lawmakers in the U.S. Senate for passing the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, legislation to repeal and replace Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) payment formula. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the measure by a vote of 392 to 37 on March 26.

“For many years, the ACR has worked with lawmakers to develop and influence policies to ensure adequate physician payment, including 17 temporary SGR patches since 2003,” said E. William St.Clair, MD, President of the ACR. “Ending the SGR once and for all is historic and long overdue, and we applaud Congress for relieving physicians and their patients from the burden of uncertainty that has plagued the Medicare program for far too long.” The bill averts physician payment cuts of more than 21 percent and future SGR cuts.

The ACR is encouraged that Congress has recognized the redundancy of current incentive programs and has aggregated them into a single entity, the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), beginning in 2019. Though the current payment system will remain in place through 2018, physicians will receive a slight payment increase and providers can now operate without the annual threat of SGR cuts. While many details of the MIPS are undetermined, the ACR looks forward to providing input during the implementation process.

The bill preserves fee-for-service as an option in the new payment system and ensures physician societies will take part in the development of new quality metrics. The ACR will continue expanding its quality initiatives and hopes to work with Congress and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to ensure appropriate quality measures are available for rheumatologists to use in their practices.

“We stand ready to work together with Members of Congress and CMS to prepare for implementation of new payment models and reporting systems in 2019, including identifying practices to ensure appropriate reimbursement and the quality delivery of value-based care,” added St.Clair. “We look forward to seeing President Obama sign this historic Medicare bill into law.”

Jocelyn Givens
404-633-3777, ext.810
jgivens@rheumatology.org

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The American College of Rheumatology is an international medical society representing over 9,400 rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals with a mission to Advance Rheumatology! In doing so, the ACR offers education, research, advocacy and practice management support to help its members continue their innovative work and provide quality patient care. Rheumatologists are experts in the diagnosis, management and treatment of more than 100 different types of arthritis and rheumatic diseases. For more information, visit www.rheumatology.org.

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