The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee has unanimously approved the Medicare Patient Access and Quality Improvement Act of 2013, which replaces Medicare’s sustainable growth rate formula. The law would provide 5 years of stable Medicare payments beginning in 2014, with reimbursement rates increasing 0.5% for each year between then and 2018.
Beginning in 2019, physicians can choose to report certain quality measures and have traditional fee-for-service payments adjusted based on how providers compare to peers on those measures. Physicians would be eligible for a 1% bonus if they meet or exceed quality measures, and could be subject to payment penalties for failure to meet the standards.
The law also provides an alternative to the quality-incentive program as physicians may opt out if they participate in an alternative payment model such as a patient-centered medical home or accountable care organization.
House members have yet to determine how to pay for the $140 billion cost of an SGR repeal, and the Senate has yet to signal its position on the House bill. A full House vote is expected sometime this year, before a 25% cut to Medicare payments goes into effect on January 1, 2014. ■
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