Bipartisan duo push supercommittee to tackle Medicare payments

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The American Medical Association is lobbying especially hard for the supercommittee to permanently repeal the SGR. The group spent more money lobbying in the last quarter than at almost any other time during the Obama administration, including parts of the healthcare reform debate.

Schwartz and Roe want the supercommittee to resist another short-term patch and begin the process of permanently replacing the SGR. The SGR’s scheduled cuts accumulate every time Congress delays them, making each temporary measure more expensive than the one before.

“What a unique opportunity in the history of this country to fix a bad system, because at the end of the day, what we get is an up-or-down vote,” Roe said of the supercommittee.

Schwartz is working on a bill to replace the SGR. But she and Roe agreed that the first step is to repeal it.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity — may never come again,” Roe said.

Ultimately, he said, Medicare has to move away from paying doctors based on how many procedures they perform. He said he envisions a hybrid system in which rural areas use a reformed fee-for-service model and more populated areas with more doctors are paid based on patients’ health.