"It seems like every year there's an extra edge as to why there might be reform," Chris Sawyer, an analyst on the Advisory Board's Physician Practice Roundtable, told me. "Last year, it was the fiscal cliff negotiations—obviously it didn't get solved, so we got another year to ask this question," he added.
However, he did point out that lawmakers are eager to take advantage of the current SGR repeal "sale." In February, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the new cost to repeal the SGR and freeze physician payments for the next 10 years is $138 billion, a more than 40% drop from its August 2012 prediction of $245 billion. Lawmakers "are hoping to get it while the numbers are good," Sawyer said.
Additionally, he noted that lawmakers' rationale for delaying the payments cuts until the end of this year was to provide more time to come up with a serious proposal. As such, there's reason to believe that an SGR fix could be part of future budget debates.
Still, despite a reasonable amount of support for the House Subcommittee proposal, Sawyer stressed that we are still in the "easy" stages of debate. Few legislators have come out and said exactly how they'd pay for an SGR fix—a major sticking point that has derailed past attempts.
"There's certainly hope for a fix this year," Sawyer said, but "it's far from a slam dunk."
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