Statement by Joe Baker, President of the Medicare Rights Center, on Bipartisan, Bicameral Agreement on Medicare Physician Payment Reform

On behalf of people with Medicare, we remain cautiously optimistic about a bipartisan agreement on policy to repeal and replace the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. We are encouraged that Congress appears committed to advancing a Medicare payment system centered on high-value care, as opposed to high-volume care.

Yet, we cannot evaluate the merits of this agreement in a vacuum. Congress has yet to make critical decisions about extenders policies of critical importance to people with Medicare and about how the SGR package will be paid for. First and foremost, Congress must make the Qualified Individual (QI) program permanent. The QI program provides a lifeline to low-income Medicare beneficiaries who would otherwise struggle to afford basic Medicare premiums. 

Importantly, Congress must not adopt policy proposals that shift added costs to people with Medicare—through higher premiums, deductibles, copayments or coinsurance—as offsets for physician payment reform. Most people with Medicare simply cannot afford to pay more, and should not be expected to shoulder the burden for paying for a broken Medicare payment system.

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