Temporary SGR Fix, ICD-10 Delay Goes to Senate

While there had been strong hope Congress would repeal and replace the sustainable growth rate formula with a bipartisan proposal, the House of Representatives passed yet another temporary fix on Thursday.

There had been strong hope Congress would repeal the controversial sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula with a deal that had bipartisan support. Instead, the House of Representatives passed yet another temporary fix on Thursday.

The temporary fix delays the 24% reimbursement cut physicians were facing for one year, effective April 1.

Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, president of the American Medical Association conveyed his dissatisfaction with the House passing the short-term fix.

"The American Medical Association is extremely disappointed in today's House action to give up on SGR repeal,” he wrote in a statement. “There was bipartisan, bicameral support for reform this year, yet too many in Congress lacked the courage and wherewithal to permanently fix Medicare to improve care for patients and provide greater certainty for physician practices.”

The bill now goes to the Senate for approval before midnight on March 31. The Senate had not passed the permanent SGR fix that the House approved weeks ago. The permanent fix replaced SGR with a bill offering incentives for physicians who provide high-quality, low-cost care.

Included in the short-term patch is a one-year delay to ICD-10 implementation, as well as a postponement to the two-midnight rule and recovery audits of unnecessary medical claims until March 2015, reports FierceHealthcare.

While less than 10% of physician practices were prepared for the Oct. 1, 2014, ICD-10 implementation deadline, according to a survey by the Medical Group Management Association, there have been vocal opponents to delaying the deadline further.

According to the American Health Information Management Association, “another delay in ICD-10 will cost the industry money and wasted time implementing the new code set.”

Other organizations opposed to the one-year delay include American Hospital Association, the American Medical Informatics Association, BlueCross BlueShield Association, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, and vendors like 3M Health Information Systems and Siemens Health Services.