2010-05-20 14:43:22 UTC

Young GIs Lobby Congress on SGR Reform, Colon Cancer Screening

May 20, 2010

AGA Young GI members came to Washington this week to lobby Congress on a permanent fix to the Medicare physician payment formula, known as the sustainable growth rate (SGR), and to urge Congress to increase funding for the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) Colon Cancer Control Program.

With a 21.3 percent cut in physician payments looming on June 1, AGA members were advocating that Congress implement a permanent fix to the SGR. However, given the budget constraints and the lack of votes for a permanent fix in the Senate, House and Senate leaders have been working this week to craft a proposal to give physicians positive updates for the next few years. Many members of both parties have been insisting that the fix must be offset so leaders have been scrambling to come up with a plan that will be palatable to senators. This process remains extremely fluid and leaders hope to have a package passed before Memorial Day.

AGA members stressed the need for stability in Medicare payments and that the current system threatens patients' access to care and also has a ripple effect with its impact on private sector payments and the TRICARE system.

AGA members also advocated for $50 million in funding for fiscal year 2011 for the CDC's colorectal cancer control program which currently operates in 22 states and four tribes that conducts educational outreach and screening to the uninsured, underinsured, minority populations and those at high-risk for colorectal cancer. Despite the increased access to screening benefits included in the health-care reform law, many of those benefits are not implemented until 2014 and this program is critical to reaching a segment of the population that may slip through the cracks and still lack access to screening.

The AGA thanks its members from taking time out of their busy schedules to advocate on behalf of gastroenterology. Participants included: Jaya Agrawal, Brian Boulay, Christopher Chapman, Donald Garrow, Gabriel Lang, Barrett Levesque, Michelle Muza-Moons, and Savita Srivastava.

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