The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a one-page memo that lowered the cost for repealing Medicare’s physician payment formula, reporting that a ten-year repeal would cost about $23 billion less than a previous estimate this year. According to the CBO, the cost of repealing the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula would now be $116.5 billion over ten years, less than half of the 2012 estimate. The CBO also scored the cost of holding off the anticipated 20.1 percent reduction to physician payments scheduled to be implemented January 1, 2014. A one-year zero percent update came was estimated to cost $19.6 billion, and a one year 0.5 percent update costing $18.7, though it is unclear how the latter achieved a lower score.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Wednesday, December 11: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health has scheduled a hearing titled “PPACA Implementation Failures: What’s Next?” The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is scheduled to testify. The House Committee on Small Business will hold a hearing titled “The Small Business Health Options Program: Is it Working for Small Businesses?” The Senate Special Committee on Aging will also hold a hearing titled “Protecting Seniors from Medication Labeling Mistakes.”
- Thursday, December 12: The Senate Committee on Finance will meet in Executive Sessions to consider an original bill to repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate system and to consider health care extenders.
Updated Meaningful Use Timeline
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released updated guidance related to implementation of meaningful use for the Medicare and Medicaid HER Incentive Programs, with Stage 2 extended through 2016 and Stage 3 beginning in 2017 for providers completing at least two years in Stage 2.
The Medicare Payment and Advisory Commission (MedPAC) has scheduled a public meeting on Thursday and Friday, December 12-13. Agenda items include a status report on the Medicare Advantage program including employer bid and hospice policies, as well as assessing payment adequacy and updating payments for the following providers:
- Physician, other health professional and ambulatory surgical center services;
- Hospital inpatient and outpatient services;
- Long-term care hospital services;
- Outpatient dialysis services;
- Skilled nursing facility services;
- Home health care services; and
- Hospice services.