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House passes SGR repeal with mandate penalty delay


The House of Representatives passed legislation to repeal Medicare's physician payment formula in a bill that also would delay the health reform law's individual mandate penalty, setting the measure up for failure in the Senate.

In a 238-181 vote Friday morning, House members passed the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act, which also includes an amendment from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., to delay for five years payment penalties for people who don't purchase health insurance.

Essentially, Rep. Camp's measure keeps the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's individual mandate — which took effect this year — in place, but won't penalize people who don't adhere to it before 2019. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office this week estimated that this move would increase the number of uninsured Americans by about 13 million in 2018.

Though cheered by House Republicans, the legislation is viewed by Democrats, policy analysts and healthcare providers as purely a political move that is not likely to go anywhere beyond the House floor.

“We're dismayed that Congress sabotaged their own work by linking legislation to unrelated, ideological issues — particularly in light of the nearly universal opposition to such action from patients, insurers and the medical community,” Dr. Reid Blackwelder, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said in a statement reacting to the vote.

The American Medical Association struck a similar note. AMA President Dr. Ardis Dee Hoven said in a statement that it would be “a shame for lawmakers to have done all of that hard work only to have it overcome by partisan politics over budgetary issues.”

Jessica Zigmond writes for Modern Healthcare, a sister publication of Business Insurance.