PAMED Members Meet with Members of Congress to Push for SGR Medicare Fix and Other Issues

PAMED leaders met with Sen. Casey during the AMA National Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C. From left to right: Dr. Ted Christopher, Dr. Ken Certa, Dr. Brandi Ring, Dr. David Talenti, Dr. Marilyn Heine, Sen. Casey, Dr. Andrew Gurman, and Dr. Karen Rizzo.

Physician leaders of the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) recently participated in the American Medical Association’s (AMA) National Advocacy Conference in Washington D.C. A priority for the AMA is urging members of Congress to permanently repeal the broken Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) Medicare physician payment formula, which calls for a 21 percent cut when the current short-term patch expires on March 31.

Physicians also advocated for relief from onerous regulatory burdens, penalties, and programs, including fixing the Meaningful Use program; the challenges of using electronic health records; the troubling changes that will be brought on by the mandate to convert to ICD-10; and addressing problems with the RAC audit process.

In an effort led by Marilyn Heine, MD, past president of PAMED, every member of PA’s U.S. Congressional Delegation’s office was visited by a PAMED member.

Among them was Sen. Bob Casey, who told Pennsylvania physicians that vehicles to repeal SGR and replace it with updated Medicare payment reform have moved through relevant committees of jurisdiction and they just need full congressional support to “get across the finish line.”

Other members of Congress indicated that there may be a short-term “patch” proposed to get physicians to Sept. 30 (the end of the Federal Fiscal Year), but that the long-term fix to the SGR is something they hope to complete this year. If a fix is not passed by Congress, this will be the 18th “patch” to the SGR since its inception.

PAMED President Karen Rizzo, MD, said “It is vital for our physician leaders to advocate both in Harrisburg but also in Washington as we look to advance the health of Pennsylvanians and improve the regulatory environment for medical practice. Being a part of the AMA National Advocacy Conference is an important way that PAMED works with the AMA and contributes to the national debate on issues that matter to my colleagues and our patients.”

Dr. Rizzo met with her own member of Congress, Joe Pitts (R-Lancaster) and thanked him for his work as chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee subcommittee on Health in developing the Medicare payment reform package that emerged last year.