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Wicker introduces Medicare bill

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss) has introduced legislation to permanently repeal the Medicare physicians’ payment formula, or Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR). Wicker’s proposed amendment to the Senate healthcare bill would also create a majority-physician commission to provide Congress with a recommendation for replacing the physician payment system and would put that recommendation on a fast-track for congressional approval.

“Congress should not consider health reform legislation without adequately addressing the doctors’ payment issue. This amendment would permanently address this critical issue, and it would do so in a responsible, comprehensive way,” Wicker said.

Wicker’s amendment would freeze physician payment levels for 2010 and 2011 at current levels, stopping cuts of more than 20 percent from being implemented. The commission’s recommendations, required to also include legislative language, would then be delivered to Congress by Dec. 1, 2010. Legislation containing the commission’s recommendation would be considered under an expedited procedure, which would require a three-fifths majority vote in both chambers for approval.

The cost of the Wicker amendment is fully offset through medical malpractice reform savings and by rescinding unspent stimulus funds, according to Wicker.

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