We applaud the House of Representatives for passing legislation that eliminates the Sustainable Growth Rate [SGR] formula and takes a giant leap toward meaningful and urgently needed Medicare physician payment reform. Cancer incidence among Medicare beneficiaries is expected to increase by 67% by 2030, and maintaining a fundamentally flawed payment system could compromise health-care access for this growing patient population. The bill passed [on March 25, 2015] goes a long way to restoring stability in one of cancer care’s most vital programs.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) now urges the U.S. Senate to follow the House’s lead and pass the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 2). This bill would finally eliminate the perennial threat and uncertainty that the SGR has created for oncology practices across the country. It would also put in place important incentives to encourage the delivery of high-quality care and provide resources to enable practices to move toward alternative payment models.
Without such action by the Senate, physicians and Medicare beneficiaries will be back on a 13-year roller coaster, which has included 17 short-term patches that have cost nearly $170 billion and caused tremendous uncertainty in oncology practices. ASCO urges the Senate to act on this unprecedented momentum to replace a dangerously inadequate Medicare reimbursement system with a more rational and reliable one.
To learn more about ASCO’s efforts in Medicare physician payment reform, please visit www.asco.org/paymentreform. ■