With Supercommittee's Failure to Reach Consensus, ASCO Reinforces the Need to Protect Patient Access to Quality Care

23 Nov 2011 9:31 AM | Lori Aubrey (Administrator)

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction announced Monday that it will not be able to reach an agreement on a spending reduction plan by the Nov. 23 deadline set forth by Congress.  The failure of the committee now triggers a process called “sequestration” -- automatic spending cuts of roughly $1.2 trillion over 10 years to federal programs including Medicare.

Since the sequestration does not take effect until 2013, President Obama suggested there is still time to come up with a debt-cutting plan that meets the supercommittee’s mandate of reducing the federal debt. “They’ve still got a year to figure it out…..Nothing prevents them from coming up with an agreement in the days ahead,” Obama said in his national address last evening.

Most immediately, unless Congress intervenes by the end of December, physicians will face a scheduled 27.4 percent cut to reimbursement in 2012 due to the sustainable growth rate formula. This flawed budget law passed in 1997 means that physician payments are automatically reduced if broad spending targets are exceeded. Since the early 2000s, Congress has acted at the last minute to postpone sharp cuts through legislation known as the “physician fix.”

Many opponents of both the flawed SGR formula and run away Medicare costs felt that the supercommittee was the best shot for a long-term solution to the problem. Now, Congress only has a few weeks until they adjourn in December to come to an agreement to avert the cuts for next year. If Congress fails to act, SGR cuts will be felt throughout communities when practices are forced to close, cut back hours and staff, or turn away Medicare patients.

In the coming days and weeks, ASCO will continue its heightened engagement with Congressional leaders while the oncology community works to find alternatives to the SGR that will help reduce program costs while promoting the highest standards of patient care. Stay active by staying informed on the latest developments on ASCO in Action.

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Northern New England Clinical Oncology Society
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Telephone (603) 887-1948
info@nnecos.org

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