President’s 2015 budget supports SGR fix, boosts funding for primary care work force programs

From international law firm Arnold & Porter LLP comes timely views on current regulatory and legislative topics that weigh on the minds of today’s physicians and health care executives.

Despite the winter weather emergency in Washington, the White House released President Barack Obama’s proposed budgetfor fiscal year 2015 on Tuesday. In its current state, the president’s proposal would spend $3.9 trillion in fiscal year 2015, leading to a budget deficit of $564 billion (a decrease from the FY2014 budget deficit of $649 billion). The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would have a $1 trillion budget under the president’s proposal, including $77 billion in discretionary funds for initiatives such as growing the physician work force, expanding Medicare’s value- and quality-based payment initiatives, and strengthening antifraud efforts.

Several provisions in the budget will be of particular interest to physicians. Perhaps most notably, the proposed budget voiced strong support for reform of Medicare’s sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula.

The administration applauds the bipartisan reform efforts in Congress and is committed to working with Congress to continue progress toward reforming Medicare physician payments to provide predictable payments that incentivize quality and efficiency in a fiscally responsible way.

The proposal also outlines the president’s general vision for reforming the SGR, in words suggesting general accord with the particulars of the bicameral bill now under consideration.

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