- The $1.1-trillion Omnibus Appropriations bill that passed on Saturday has many physicians more than a little upset because it lacks any fix to the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula for physician reimbursement under Medicare.
- There is also no sign of an extension of the current pay bump for primary-care physicians who see Medicaid patients.
- The bill will fund the Office of the National Coordinator for Health at the same level as last fiscal year with a budget of just under $60.4 million.
With the onslaught of regulatory and financial pressures physicians are already facing, not to mention costly transitions like ICD-10 in the pipeline, they have grounds to be miffed.
As David Fleming, MD, president of the American College of Physicians, noted in an interview with Medpage Today, the cost of repealing the SGR—which is estimated by the Congressional Budget Office at about $140 billion—is the lowest it's been in quite some time.
If Congress doesn't figure out a way to get rid of the SGR and balance the budget, physicians will see major reimbursement cuts. This could mean that many more physicians drop out of Medicaid altogether, a prospect that is certainly untimely considering the surge in beneficiaries.