Bill repealing Sustainable Growth Rate passes House committee

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A bill that would repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate and effectively end the need for the “doc fix” passed a house committee in a unanimous vote on Wednesday. The Medicare Patient Access and Quality Improvement Act passed the Energy and Commerce Committee and will now move to the full chamber.

The SGR would be replaced with a raise for doctors of 0.5% annually from 2014 to 2018, and the following year, the physician would be eligible for a 1% rate increase on top of the inflationary raise if they meet benchmarks for quality care.

Although it's relatively agreed upon that the SGR needs to go, the idea that physicians would be compensated based on quality has raised many questions that are yet to be resolved, according the The Fiscal Times. Legislators have yet to outline and clarify what constitutes quality care.

Additionally, the bill could cost at least $178 billion, and where the funding would come from hasn't been stated yet, The Fiscal Times reported.

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), M.D., introduced the bill and remains hopeful for its House passage.

“Today's unanimous committee passage of H.R. 2810 was a major milestone,” he said in a statement. “I'm heartened by the continued progress of this bill and am optimistic about it becoming law. The SGR's unrealistic assumptions of spending and efficiency have plagued the medical profession and our Medicare beneficiaries for too long.  By repealing and replacing SGR we will preserve Medicare by ensuring continued access to physicians for our seniors.”

A copy of the bill is online, as well as an opening statement from Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI).