This week, Larry Downs, MSNJ’s CEO and General Counsel, met with Congressman Frank Pallone to discuss a repeal of Medicare’s sustainable growth rate (SGR) which results in annual Medicare fee decreases to physicians. Congressman Pallone is a member of the Energy & Commerce Committee, and Ranking Member of the Health Subcommittee which shares jurisdiction over Medicare with the Ways & Means Committee. We are pleased to report that Congressman Pallone supports our efforts to repeal the SGR. Read MSNJ’s letter to Congressman Pallone.
MSNJ, the AMA, and organized medicine are urging Congress to seize upon this historic opportunity to use funds in the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) to pay for the elimination of the SGR. OCO is the discretionary fund for Afghanistan, Iraq and similar conflicts. Using OCO funding as an offset is appropriate because these conflicts are winding down significantly, but the Congressional Budget Office cannot downwardly adjust the OCO spending estimate over the next ten years until the next (FY2012) Defense Appropriations bill is passed. Read more about the rationale to use OCO funds to offset the SGR elimination which would pay for the accumulated cost of repeal. The current cost is approximately $300 billion. Congressman Pallone agrees that using OCO funds is an appropriate solution and will advocate for this. On behalf of physicians at large and our members who treat our senior population, we express sincere thanks for this support.
MSNJ also signed a letter authored by the AMA to members of the conference committee on payroll taxes, unemployment insurance and physician payments, urging it to repeal the SGR. The AMA reports that during the first public meeting on January 24 virtually all statements addressed the payment crisis and several members called for the permanent repeal as part of the final conference committee package. MSNJ will continue to meet with our delegation. Meetings with Congressmen Leonard Lance (R-NJ, 7th district) and Jon Runyan (R-NJ, 3rd district) have already been scheduled.