Last night, by a 64-36 vote, the U.S. Senate passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, sending it to the President for his signature and funding the federal government through fiscal year 2015. The budget deal includes a three-month patch to avert a 21 percent payment cut to physicians under the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula. CHA prepared a summary of the legislation, containing both good and bad news for hospitals, last week. Both California senators voted yes.
When Congress returns in the new year, focus will shift to bipartisan legislation to repeal the SGR and replace it with a new payment system for physicians. The House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees have reported separate legislation that will have to be reconciled in order for legislation to pass both houses. The financing mechanisms for offsetting the cost of repeal have not been released. Payments to hospitals continue to be vulnerable as the committees look for as much at $150 billion over the next 10 years to pay for the SGR repeal. While CHA is supportive of repealing the SGR, we will continue to advocate against any cuts to hospitals as a funding mechanism.