Budget rep. wants supercommittee to take on permanent Medicare payments fix

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Fixing the formula comes with a daunting $300 billion price tag, which derailed efforts to address it in the national healthcare reform bill. But leaving the law on the books, Schwartz writes to the supercommittee, would double the price tag to almost $600 billion over the next five years or force the Medicare program to slash payments to a level that would force thousands of physicians to leave the program.

Physician groups across the country are also demanding that the supercommittee tackle the problem.

Last week, dozens of state and national medical organizations signed on to a letter drafted by the American Medical Association demanding action.

"With a 30 percent across-the-board payment cut in physician services scheduled for January 1, 2012, the implications of continuing this practice of simply putting off cuts to future years are clear. Continued access to care for our nation's senior and disabled citizens is seriously threatened," the doctors' letter reads. "The fiscally responsible course is clear. This is the time to repeal the SGR so that new payment models can be adopted that promote high quality, cost effective care."