The California Medical Association praised the U.S. House of Representatives today for passing HR 3961, legislation that will ease the difficulty seniors face in finding a physician who accepts Medicare. The bill repeals Medicare's flawed payment structure, known as the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), and replaces it with a stable foundation that would encourage physician participation.

"Many physicians have been forced to stop taking Medicare patients," said CMA President Brennan Cassidy, MD. "The passage of HR 3961 is a step in the right direction for health care reform. We must first fix the foundation of health care before we can expand upon it. CMA thanks California's Congressional leaders for making the passage of HR 3961 a priority."

Instrumental in passing the legislation were California House leaders, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D - S.F.), Rep. Henry Waxman (D - L.A.) and Rep. Pete Stark House (D - Freemont).

Over the past seven years, Congress has created a band-aid solution to the flawed formula that automatically cuts physician payment. This uncertainty has forced some physicians to stop taking new Medicare patients. HR 3961 would repeal the SGR and replace it with two new spending targets, one for primary care and one for all other services. The new spending targets would be rebased every five years so that any future projected cuts will be removed.

Today's 243-183 vote was along party lines. The action now shifts to the Senate where they begin debate on their bill this weekend. "CMA will be working with the Senate to repeal the SGR, as the House bill today would accomplish, so that seniors and the uninsured not only have coverage but real access to their doctor," said Dr. Cassidy.

California Medical Association

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