HealthDay News — A move by the U.S. Senate this week officially repealed the problematic sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, the American Medical Association (AMA) announced. 

Following years of advocacy by physicians, the U.S. Senate passed a bill Tuesday evening to immediately repeal the SGR formula. On the eve of a 21% cut to physicians’ Medicare payments, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act was adopted. Starting July 1, and lasting through 2019, the bill provides positive annual payment updates of 0.5%.

The legislation includes several provisions for physicians such as streamlining and simplification of Medicare’s current quality reporting programs into one merit-based incentive payment system; inclusion of protections that prevent medical liability cases from using Medicare quality program standards and measures as a standard or duty of care; and incentive payments for physicians who participate in alternative payment models and meet specific thresholds. In addition, technical support will be provided for smaller practices to participate in alternative payment models or fee-for-service incentive programs.

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“Passage of this historic legislation finally brings an end to an era of uncertainty for Medicare beneficiaries and their physicians — facilitating the implementation of innovative care models that will improve care quality and lower costs,” AMA Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer James L. Madara, MD, said in an association news release. “Patients will be able to get the care they need and deserve.”

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