On Monday, March 31, the U.S. Senate passed another temporary Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) "doc fix" bill, hours before automatic, 24-percent Medicare physician payment cuts would have gone into effect. The bill will now be sent to President Barack Obama, who can either veto it or sign it into law. Sources have toldHealthcare Informatics that Presidential approval is expected. The bill passed by a vote of 64-35, with bipartisan support, as well as some bipartisan opposition.
The Senate vote comes four days after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the one-year delay with its vote last Thursday afternoon. Released last week, the bill provides a 12-month delay to the March 31, 2014 expiration date of the SGR "doc fix.” The SGR, or sustainable growth rate formula, is the formula for physician payment established under Medicare since 1997, and has only been deployed a single year, with Congress authorizing annual "fixes" in its place.
The bill just passed by both houses of Congress also includes a one-year delay in the mandatory transition to the ICD-10 coding system, which was supposed to take effect on October 1 of this year.According to some sources, the language concerning the ICD-10 element of the SGR patch was created at the behest of a coalition of specialty medical societies under what is called a re-valued code provision.
Read more at Healthcare Informatics.