Repeal the Growth Rate Formula for Medicare


As a disabled veteran and your voting constituent, I urge you initiate and/or support any legislation that will amend or repeal the Sustained Growth Rate (SGR) formula of Medicare Law.

As you should be aware, the SGR formula will mandate a 10 percent cut in physician reimbursements on January 1, 2008. Over the next nine years the scheduled of cuts would total approximately 40 percent. During the same period physician costs are expected to increase 20 percent.

Since 2002 when the SGR first mandated reductions in physician reimbursements, the Congress has merely blocked the cuts for one year at a time, and has usually authorized a small percentage increase of reimbursements. The correct action of the Congress should be to amend or repeal the SGR provision.

A recent survey by the American Medical Associate of nearly 9,000 doctors shows that if the payment cut went into effect:

Sixty percent of doctors would limit the number of new Medicare patients they accept. Approximately 70 percent would defer purchase of needed information technology in 2008. Fifty percent would reduce their staff, and 14 percent would stop treating patients entirely.

As you are also likely aware, Tricare reimbursement rates are indexed as a fraction (max equals 100 percent) of the Medicare Allowable Amount. Thus, these SGR cuts will impact all military retirees and their families whether they are under age 65 with Basic Tricare or 65-plus with Medicare+TFL (Tricare for Life). In far too many areas of the United States, there are already regions where no physicians accept Tricare. Based on the above dismal statistics, these regions will continue to increase in size and number.

So much for the promise of free lifetime health care for military retirees and their families. So much for the Medicare promise for those reaching age 65. Please do everything within your power to stop the SGR-mandated cuts.

Rather than simply blocking the cuts this January, the Congress should amend or repeal the Sustained Growth Rate formula.

F. Maitland Cuthbertson, Monterey

Previous articleNo Suspects in C Street Homicide
Next articleNews of Record (July 28)
A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here