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October 23, 2009

2009

October 23, 2009

SGR Fix Fails Senate Cloture Vote

This week, legislation to permanently eliminate the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate formula (SGR) failed to muster the needed 60 votes to move towards consideration.  By a vote of 47-53, the Senate voted not to invoke cloture on the Medicare Physician Fairness Act, S. 1776. 

The SGR formula is used to develop Medicare physician payment rates and for several years has projected cuts in Medicare reimbursement for physician services.  Congress has repeatedly intervened to prevent the annual cuts by temporarily delaying the cuts - pushing the cost of each delayed reduction into the next year.  The result of all of these temporary fixes is that now the projected cut in Medicare physician payments is 21.5 percent for 2010, with further reductions expected in the following year.  The estimated cost of eliminating the SGR formula and providing a 10-year payment freeze is $243 billion.

While there is bipartisan recognition that the SGR must be fixed, there is not yet bipartisan agreement on how to fix the problem.  Both House and Senate healthcare reform bills include provisions to temporarily address the SGR.  The physician community is pushing to ensure that the Congress develops a permanent SGR fix in the context of health care reform.

Research: Nabel to Resign as NHLBI Director

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Director Elizabeth G. Nabel, MD, will resign from the institute this year to become president of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Faulkner Hospital in Boston. She will assume her new position on January 1, 2010.

Dr. Nabel has served as Director of the NHLBI since 2005. One of her key initiatives is the institute’s COPD Awareness Campaign, a national education program which has successfully raised public awareness of COPD as a serious lung disease.  She is also known for reorganizing the NHLBI’s research programs through her design and implementation in 2006 of a new strategic plan.

Dr. Nabel, a cardiologist, graduated from Cornell University Medical College and trained at the Brigham and Women's Hospital. She gained recognition for her research in vascular biology and molecular cardiology at the University of Michigan before she joined the NHLBI in 1999 as Scientific Director for Clinical Research.

Points of Contact

Gary Ewart Senior Director, Government Relations
Nuala Moore Senior Legislative Representative
Joe Kirby DC Office Administrator