Congress must take decisive action to prevent the 26.5% reduction to Medicare physician payments scheduled for Jan. 1, 2013. Furthermore, the systemically flawed SGR must be permanently repealed to stabilize the Medicare payment system, a path detailed in the "Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act" (H.R. 5707) sponsored by Representatives Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) and Joe Heck, DO (R-NV). The AOA supports this approach built around a period of stability and innovation, identification and trial of new payment models, and transition to new payment models, all within the next decade. The AOA also supports using the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds to offset the costs of SGR repeal under this plan.
In addition, a balanced budget approach to deficit reduction must be agreed upon by Congress to prevent an additional 2% cut to physician payments from taking effect as required under sequestration beginning Jan. 2, 2013. Other cuts to health care programs under sequestration will also have considerable consequences for physician training, patient access to care and lifesaving medical research.