Last week, in a rare bipartisanship vote, the “doc-fix” bill cleared the Senate and was signed by President Obama, putting the 15-year-old sustainable growth-rate (SGR) formula to an end. The vote passed 92-8 setting-up a new two-track payments system for doctors that is designed to move patients into risk-based payment models, thereby stopping the 21.2% in payment cuts that would have gone into effect this month.
As reported in a previous blog post, starting in 2019, doctors that qualify for the alternative payment track will receive higher reimbursement rates. The package also included a two-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and $7.2 billion in funding for community health centers. With the approximately $200 billion-plus package being offset by corresponding spending reductions, the financial hits are intended to be spread evenly amongst providers and wealthier Medicare beneficiaries.
With value-based payments gaining momentum, provider relationships with physicians will become increasingly important now that providers’ payments will not be linked with economic growth. Patients are becoming consumers and the way doctors interact and deliver quality of care to them will be vital to future success.