SGR 'Fix' Means Time for Doctors to Opt Out of Medicare, States Association of American Physicians and Surgeons

TUCSON, Ariz., April 15, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- After both Houses of Congress overwhelmingly passed a bill touted as averting a 21 percent cut in payments to physicians, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons issued the following statement:

"At the last moment before the 21 percent physician fee cut mandated by the Clinton-Gingrich sustainable growth rate (SGR) went into effect, the Boehner-Pelosi fix was enacted: H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Bill.

"While the bill permanently repeals the SGR formula, it does not lift the regime of price controls that doctors have endured since the 1980s. It gives physicians a tiny 0.5 percent or 1 percent 'update,' but this does not even cover inflation, much less the onerous added administrative requirements.

"Congress apparently intends to eventually force physicians into Alternate Payment Models (APMs), in which Medicare may not pay physicians at all, but rather turn the money over to an 'eligible alternate payment entity,' which will disburse payment to 'qualifying APM participants.'

"The 263-page bill creates many items that will have to be paid for—risk adjustment calculations, quality and outcomes metrics, case management, resource use monitoring, interoperable electronic health records, data registries, practice assessment checklists, and so on. Many stakeholders will be paid for 'helping' the Secretary develop and physicians comply with the 'value' and 'performance' determinations.

"This will result in an onerous, very costly Sustained Global Rationing program, which will divert resources from medical care yet still not make the Medicare program solvent.

"The only way physicians will be able to remain independent and serve their patients rather than the System is to opt out of or disenroll from Medicare.

"The only positive feature we see in this bill is the removal of the requirement to re-opt out every 2 years, once an affidavit is filed more than 60 days after the bill goes into effect.

"Opted-out physicians are able to charge a mutually agreeable fee (sometimes lower than the Medicare copayment), drastically reduce administrative overhead, give their patients the time that they need, keep records confidential, and prescribe according to their best judgment rather than a government-approved protocol.

"The H.R. 2 APMs will become death panels. Participating physicians will defy them at extreme peril to their livelihood.

"Patients need to find a physician they can trust, who is working for them, not the government and its private contractors."

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943.

CONTACT: Jane M. Orient, M.D., (520) 323-3110, janeorientmd@gmail.comSource:Association of American Physicians and Surgeons