This Week – December 20, 2013

This Week in Washington DC:

  1. Congress Temporarily Averts Medicare Physician Payment Cuts: Senate follows the House’s lead with 3 month patch and .5% update

Senate passes legislation to avert SGR cuts in 2014 but adds more sequestration cuts to Medicare providers in the out-years

On Wednesday, the Senate passed a 3 month Medicare payment patch to temporarily avert significant cuts looming in January 2014. This provides lawmakers with extra time to address comprehensive Medicare reimbursement reform legislation in early 2014. On Thursday, December 12th, the House of Representatives passed similar legislation. Both measures were part of a larger 2 year budget package.

Medicare providers will receive a 3 month Medicare reimbursement update of .5% instead of the looming 20+% Medicare reimbursement cut due to the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula and other changes to the 2014 Medicare conversion factor. This means that from January through March 2014, Medicare providers will receive a .5% reimbursement increase for all services. However, as ACG members are aware, GI will also experience significant cuts in certain services beginning January 2014 such as EGD, ERCP, and esphagoscopy.

The larger budget agreement, crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), sets discretionary spending at more than $1 trillion for the next two fiscal years. However, the agreement extends across-the-board cuts (known as sequestration) in Medicare for an additional two years beyond the original time period of 2021 (now extended to 2022 and 2023). This means that Medicare providers (facilities and physicians) will receive a total 4% cut over 2022-2023, or annual cuts of 2% for the next 11 years.

ACG members should also know that potential cuts to colonoscopy may be on the horizon. This is one reason why ACG continues to urge Congress to pass the SCREEN Act (S. 608 / H.R. 1320) despite the divisive political environment on Capitol Hill. This bill improves quality of care in our specialty, lowers patient barriers to life-saving colorectal cancer screening, and also strives to ensure Medicare reimbursement for colonoscopy is fair. This is a very crucial time for clinical gastroenterology and our patients. Please urge your leaders to support the SCREEN Act:

Please stay tuned for further updates. Please also share and discuss your thoughts with fellow ACG members on the ACG GI Circle. To login and share your comments, go to and sign in as a member. Once you have done so, click here and then click the orange "Visit ACG GI Circle" button to be taken to the GI Circle site. If you have not yet activated your ACG GI Circle account, please email us at

Contact Brad Conway, VP Public Policy, with any questions or for more information.

Brad Conway