This is the best description I’ve heard of the short-term Medicare SGR “patch” that passed the House and Senate today. It didn’t come from a press release from organized medicine, but from someone directly involved in the process, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD). Here is the full quote from his speech today on the floor of the House, minutes before it voted to extend Medicare payments to doctors for another 10 months:
“We are playing a silly little game with the doctors and with Medicare patients, and this silly little game pretends we are going to extend SGR for 10 months. That's baloney and everybody knows it. We are going to extend SGR over and over and over again. We should have done it permanently in this bill. We should have done it permanently last year in the Congress which I was the Majority Leader. We should have done that. So with respect to SGR, ladies and gentlemen, we are playing a game, and the doctors all over this country and the Medicare recipients all over this country know we're playing a game. We're giving them no certainty, no confidence that come this September, October, November, we won't have another one of these silly little debates.”
Now, a cynic would point out that Congressman Hoyer is a Democrat in a Republican-controlled House, so it is easy for him to take pot shots now. But at least he was honest in saying that getting rid of the SGR should have been done permanently last year when his party controlled the House and when he was the Majority Leader.
So maybe we should all stop referring to the Sustainable Growth Rate as the SGR, and start calling it the SLG—Silly Little Game—that has been played by Washington politicians from both political parties on doctors and patients for a decade now. But it won’t seem so silly, or much like a game, when patients no longer can find a doctor.
Today’s question: Are you going to tell your members of Congress to stop playing this silly little game with you and your patients?