New joint legislation to repeal Medicare’s failed SGR formula is advancing to both chambers of Congress following an agreement announced Thursday by the three committees that put forth repeal bills earlier this session.

“The AMA congratulates House and Senate negotiators for taking this critical step toward reforming the nation’s Medicare program,” AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, said in a statement. “This legislation is the product of months of unprecedented bipartisan, bicameral work to reach this landmark agreement to build a stronger Medicare program.”

The agreement of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, and the U.S. Senate Finance Committee as well as the congressional Doctors Caucus reflects the overwhelming bipartisan support for eliminating the SGR formula. The aim is to put Medicare on the path toward a stable, 21st-century program that can meet the growing health care needs of the nation’s seniors.

“Throughout the legislative process, the bill authors have been receptive to AMA’s recommendations to improve the policy,” Dr. Hoven said.

In addition to repealing the SGR formula, the bill includes automatic positive payment updates of 0.5 percent for five years, a consolidated and restructured Medicare quality reporting program, and transitions to alternative payment models.

Congress now is working against a March 31 deadline, at which point the SGR formula calls for a 24 percent cut to physician payments.

Once it has completed an analysis of the bill, the AMA will provide additional information about what the joint legislation would mean for physicians.

Visit AMA Wire™ for up-to-the-minute coverage as the bill advances in Congress.