Representative Michael Burgess was the special guest for the SVS PAC reception held during the Vascular Annual Meeting in Boston on June 5. Guests included SVS members who had contributed to the PAC in the past year.
Rep. Burgess was first elected to Congress in 2002 and serves as Vice Chair of the prestigious House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee. He is also an active member of the House GOP Doctors Caucus. He practiced medicine for almost three decades prior to his election to Congress.
His remarks focused on repeal and reform of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula for Medicare physician payment. He is the sponsor of H.R. 4015, SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act of 2014, which passed the House in March, and includes the following provisions:
1. SGR would be repealed immediately.
2. Positive updates of 0.5 percent would be provided for five years.
3. No change would be made to the current system for four years.
4. Physician Quality Reporting System, Value-Based Modifier and EHR Meaningful Use would be replaced by a Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) beginning in 2018.
5. MIPS would set performance thresholds that would allow all physicians to be “winners” by receiving positive payment adjustments if they score above the threshold.
The House used a five-year delay for the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act to pay for it.
The Senate introduced similar legislation, S. 2000, but was unable to determine how to pay for it before March 31 when the SGR patch expired. Because of this, Congress enacted another patch that will expire on March 31, 2015, which averted a 24 percent decrease in Medicare physician payment.
Rep. Burgess was optimistic about getting this legislation passed during the lame duck session of Congress following the November elections. He is supportive of the Senate using Overseas Contingency Operations discretionary funds, along with health care and other funds just to get the legislation voted out of the Senate. A conference committee would be necessary to determine the provisions in the final bill and how it would be financed over the next 10 years.
Rep. Burgess encouraged SVS members to meet with their Senators during the August recess, particularly Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) who is the Majority Leader of the Senate, emphasizing the importance of this legislation for both physicians and patients.