Kiss the SGR Goodbye: Senate Repeals Medicare Payment Formula

US Capitol 1In an historic vote Tuesday night, the U.S. Senate finally repealed the flawed Medicare payment formula that has been plaguing physicians for more than 17 years. The final vote was 92-8. Senators Markey and Warren voted in favor.

To get there, the Senate spent more than two hours trudging through votes on six different amendments from both Republicans and Democrats. Only one vote was close – it would have removed caps on therapy services. If any single amendment had passed, the bill would have returned to the House, whose leaders had already said they would not agree to any more amendments.

The vote came just hours before Medicare would have been forced to cut payments by 21% for all services provided after March 31. But that’s not going to happen – President Obama will sign the bill.

The legislation guarantees physicians a 0.5% rate increase every year through 2019, when a series of quality incentive payments become available. The first 0.5% increase takes effect July 1, 2015, followed by another 0.5% increase on Jan. 1, 2016.