Medicare Physician Payments: Considerations for Reforming the Sustainable Growth Rate System

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Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Concerns were raised about the system Medicare uses to determine annual changes to physician fees--the sustainable growth rate (SGR) system--when it reduced physician fees by almost 5 percent in 2002. Subsequent administrative and legislative actions modified or overrode the SGR system to avert fee declines in 2003, 2004, and 2005. However, projected fee reductions for 2006 to 2012 have raised new concerns about the SGR system. Policymakers question the appropriateness of the SGR system for updating physician fees and its effect on physicians' continued participation in the Medicare ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. February 10, 2005.

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Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Concerns were raised about the system Medicare uses to determine annual changes to physician fees--the sustainable growth rate (SGR) system--when it reduced physician fees by almost 5 percent in 2002. Subsequent administrative and legislative actions modified or overrode the SGR system to avert fee declines in 2003, 2004, and 2005. However, projected fee reductions for 2006 to 2012 have raised new concerns about the SGR system. Policymakers question the appropriateness of the SGR system for updating physician fees and its effect on physicians' continued participation in the Medicare program if fees are permitted to decline. At the same time, there are concerns about the impact of increased spending on the long-term fiscal sustainability of Medicare. GAO was asked to discuss the SGR system. Specifically, this statement addresses the following: (1) how the SGR system is designed to moderate the growth in spending for physician services, (2) why physician fees are projected to decline under the SGR system, and (3) options for revising or replacing the SGR system and their implications for physician fee updates and Medicare spending. This statement is based on GAO's most recent report on the SGR system, Medicare Physician Payments: Concerns about Spending Target System Prompt Interest in Considering Reforms (GAO-05-85)."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • February 10, 2005

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  • June 11, 2014, 5:03 a.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Medicare Physician Payments: Considerations for Reforming the Sustainable Growth Rate System, text, February 10, 2005; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc291603/: accessed September 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.