Congress Passes 3-Month SGR "Patch" with 0.5% Payment Update to Prevent 24% SGR Cut as Part of Budget Agreement; Additional 2% Cut From Sequestration Goes into Effect January 1 
This week, the Senate passed a two-year budget agreement by a vote of 64 to 36, which includes a three-month Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) “patch” with a 0.5% payment update and prevents the scheduled 24% SGR cut to Medicare physician payments. This follows approval of the measure last week by the House, and now goes to the President for his signature. As a means of cost offsets for the budget, the deal includes a two-year extension of Medicare cuts in ongoing mandatory spending reductions known as sequestration, now ending the cuts in 2023. Medicare provider payments will be subject to an additional 2% cut from sequestration beginning January 1, 2014.
The House has adjourned for the year and the Senate is expected to follow today or tomorrow. Both the House and Senate will return in 2014.
Specific information regarding the conversion factor for the 3-month period will be forthcoming. ASCRS•ASOA will continue to provide updates in the form of alerts or in Washington Watch Weekly as information becomes available. It is important to note, however, that the remainder of the 2014 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule will go into effect on January 1, 2014.
Congressional leadership, calling the SGR patch a “Medicare physician payment bridge,” set the timeline at three months in hopes that by then Congress will have had enough time to act on a repeal of the SGR and Medicare physician payment reform.