Repeal SGR, but don’t privatize Medicare

March 25, 2015

By Don McCanne

In the fervor to finally rid us of the flawed SGR model of setting Medicare payment rates, Congress is about to pass legislation (H.R. 1470) that includes ill-advised, misguided and detrimental policies that could cause irreparable harm to our traditional Medicare program. Instead, Congress should revise the current legislation to comply with the following recommendations.

Recommendations

1. Repeal SGR

2. Extend the funding of CHIP for four years

3. Extend funding for community health centers

4. Reject unproven or detrimental policies

a. Reject the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) which threatens the traditional Medicare program by creating an administratively burdensome but unproven method of replacing volume with value

b. Reject the Alternative Payment Models (APMs) as the only options for escaping MIPS since APMs also remain unproven methods of replacing volume with value

c. Reject the threat to quality care that can result from burnout of health care professionals overburdened with the administrative excesses of MIPS and APMs

d. Reject the false argument that SGR – a policy that has not been implemented for many years – must somehow be paid for by other reductions in public spending

e. Reject the political chicanery of introducing unrelated issues into the legislation such as policy positions on pregnancy termination

f. Reject the expansion of means-tested premiums in Medicare which would threaten solidarity in support of our Medicare program

g. Reject imposing deductibles under Medigap plans which would cause too many patients to delay or forgo beneficial health care services

h. Reject these unproven or detrimental policies that would reduce support of our traditional Medicare program, opening the door for those who would privatize Medicare through premium-support (voucher) proposals.