On Tuesday, April 14, the Senate approved the Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2) in a 92-8 vote, meeting much applause from orthopaedic providers and the American Association for Orthopaedic Surgeons. The bill was then signed by President Obama on Thursday, April 16. The momentous move on behalf of the Senate culminates in the permanent repeal of SGR (Sustainable Growth Rate), signifying a move to ensure better Medicare patient care and the end to what would have been 21-percent Medicare payment cuts to providers. MACRA repealed and replaced the SGR and extended CHIP for two years.
As orthopaedic providers, we at The OrthoForum welcome the end of the SGR formula and the transition to a more functional system based on “quality, value and accountability”. Medicare patients, particularly the vast senior population which rely on orthopaedic care, will now more consistently receive the caliber of care they need at lower costs. This impactful measure will result in a long-awaited, much more streamlined Medicare process, from reporting to payment policies and overall care quality. Providers of all forms have called for an overhaul of the inefficient SGR formula to a value-based system for years, and orthopaedic providers in particular consider this a historic moment in health care legislation.
SGR repeal marks an era of new standards and the significant beginning to the development of delivery and payment models that provide physicians with the flexibility to voluntarily choose options appropriate to their patients and practice. The repeal will improve health care across a broad spectrum, setting the precedent for value-based care in which best practices and quality are rewarded, while allowing patients access to alternative ways to pay for care. This is something we have long fought for, and is certainly seen as a triumph for providers and patients alike.