The U.S. House of Representatives on March 14 approved legislation by a vote of 238 to 181 to repeal Medicare's sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula that would cut the physician reimbursement rate this year by nearly 24 percent. However, Senate passage in its present form is poor because the House included language to delay the Accountable Care Act's individual mandate for five years.

If enacted into law, the legislation would avert a 23.7 percent payment cut starting April 1. Under a new payment formula, physicians would receive an annual update of 0.5 percent from 2014 through 2018, with the rates in 2018 maintained through 2023. Physicians, however, could receive incentive payments during that time. Starting in 2014 and ongoing thereafter, physicians participating in alternative payment models would receive an annual update of one percent while others would continue at the 0.5 percent rate.

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