Congress Passes SGR Patch, Delays Two Midnight Rule

[MMA News Now, April 3, 2014] On March 31, the U.S. Senate passed a measure that postpones the 24 percent physician payment cut until April 1, 2015, and delays implementation of the “two midnight” rule. The House passed an identical version of the bill on March 27, and President Obama is expected to sign the legislation into law.

The MMA, AMA and dozens of other physician organizations, sent a letter on March 26 urging members of the House to vote against the bill. The AMA sent a similar letter of opposition to the Senate on March 28. In addition, the MMA sent letters to each of the eight Minnesota U.S. representatives asking them to vote against the patch bill.

The MMA, AMA and other physician groups had been advocating for a full repeal of the flawed Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula.

“We are certainly disappointed with this result,” said Dave Renner, MMA’s director of state and federal legislation. “We had bipartisan, bicameral support of an SGR repeal developed and making progress in Washington, and then lawmakers got cold feet.”

This is the 17th patch that Congress has enacted since the SGR formula became law in 1997.

The Senate and House bills also put off enforcement of the “two midnight” rule for six months. This new Medicare rule stipulates that hospital stays lasting fewer than two midnights must be treated and billed as outpatient services.

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