The Poison Pill

Last week, the House of Representatives passed a Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) reform bill. Within the bill were items that were important to ACR and radiology including Clinical Decision Support (CDS) and Multiple Procedure Payment Reduction (MPPR). Radiology was the only specialty to get specific provisions into SGR reform. It was a milestone for radiology and medicine that we saw a legislative body recognize the need to address the flawed SGR formula.

The problem is that to pay for the bill, it was attached to a provision that would suspend for five years the penalties associated with the individual mandate, which is a core component of the Affordable Care Act. The democratic majority in the Senate would not consider such legislation. The president would never sign it. On the other side of the Capitol, the Senate is considering the same legislation but is either not identifying how they intend to pay the $180 billion price or will use unspent funds from our involvement in oversees wars. The Republicans in neither the House nor Senate will support this funding method.

As a result, a much needed piece of legislation is being held hostage by the politics of the midterm elections.

We will probably see another “Doc Fix” patch for nine months that takes us past the November elections. There is every indication that permanent SGR reform will be considered after the election season.  The good news is that the ACR and radiology will be striving to maintain if not strengthen the language in whatever bill emerges from the vantage of already establishing the high ground.

While momentum in Washington can be fickle, at least this time it is on our side.

As always the ACR government relations team values your support.

Author – Howard B. Fleishon, M.D., MMM, FACR

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