Senators seek input on permanent Medicare doc fix

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"We support identifying alternative models, including those being currently tested, with a clear recognition that these will take time to develop and scale."

The SGR is a major problem for healthcare providers, who face a more than 20 percent cut to their reimbursements annually unless Congress intervenes.

Enthusiasm for a permanent "doc fix" has grown in recent months since congressional budget auditors unexpectedly lowered the price tag for repealing the SGR.

In the reform, lawmakers see an opportunity to transition Medicare away from its current fee-for-service model and into a system that rewards quality and efficiency.

Baucus and Hatch asked providers on Friday how Medicare can incentivize them to "undertake the structural, behavioral, and other changes" necessary for a transition to performance-based payments.

"We must improve the current system to ensure that it makes appropriate payments for physician services, reduces unnecessary utilization and improves quality while also easing the transition to new payment models," the senators wrote.

The House has already taken several steps toward SGR reform, and Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyMnuchin says Social Security recipients will automatically get coronavirus checks Pelosi not invited by Trump to White House coronavirus relief bill's signing Democrat refuses to yield House floor, underscoring tensions on coronavirus vote MORE (R-Texas), chairman of the Ways and Means subcommittee on Health, said a permanent fix could come this year.

"I think it would be a huge mistake to run this up to New Year's Eve again," Brady said Tuesday.