House Passes Bill to #KeepthePromise, Protect Seniors’ Access to Medicare Physicians

March 27, 2014

Upton: “Our work is far from done, but today we restore some certainty to our seniors that their trusted doctor will be available when they are in need of care.”

WASHINGTON, DC – The House of Representatives today advanced by voice vote H.R. 4302, the Protecting Access to Medicare Act, legislation that will protect seniors’ access to Medicare physicians. The House of Representatives recently advanced a bipartisan, long-term, fully paid for solution to the flawed SGR formula that has plagued the Medicare program for more than a decade. In the absence of action from the Senate, Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) introduced H.R. 4302 to prevent a 24 percent cut to Medicare physician reimbursement rates and ensure that seniors will have access to their doctors. The measure, which is fully paid for, will also result in $1.2 billion in savings over ten years according to the Congressional Budget Office.

“While we’re not yet over the finish line, we are closer than ever before. Republicans and Democrats of the House and Senate have agreed to the policy of a permanent solution, and this chamber has already passed a bipartisan, fully paid-for bill that would make it a reality. But, while we wait for the Senate to join us, it is important for us to keep the promises we have made to seniors who depend on the Medicare program,” said full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). “Our work is far from done, but today we restore some certainty to our seniors that their trusted doctor will be available when they are in need of care.”

Speaking in support of his legislation, Pitts said: “Unfortunately we have reached another doc fix deadline. I believe that we must act to protect America’s seniors and ensure that they can continue to see the doctors they know and trust, and that is why I have introduced legislation that represents a bipartisan, bicameral agreement that will give us additional time to work out our differences and pass permanent repeal. We are closer than ever to reaching that goal. We have an agreement on policy; we need to overcome our differences about the responsible way to pay for those new policies. … I am sponsoring this bill today because it is my earnest hope that this is the last patch we will have to pass.”

Pitts continued, “Seniors are watching. This is not a game. We are thinking of seniors and certainty for them. … We are voting for or against seniors today. … We will continue to work with all of our might for a permanent repeal of SGR. We’ve worked on this for three years; we must get there as soon as possible. But we are at a deadline.”

“Two weeks ago the House passed a permanent repeal and replacement of the SGR that was fully paid for. The fix provided doctors who treat Medicare patients with certainty, that’s what they need, and incentivized and rewarded doctors to keep seniors healthy. The Senate needs to negotiate,” commented health subcommittee member Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL).

H.R. 4302 also includes several provisions that reflect priorities of Energy and Commerce Committee members, including:

  • The Assisted Outpatient Treatment Grant Program for Individuals with Mental Illness, a policy led by Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA).
  • Ensuring Accurate Values for Physician Fee Schedule Services, a provision that reflects the policy of H.R. 846, the Diagnostic Imaging Services Access Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX). 
  • The extension of abstinence education, a priority for both Chairman Upton and Chairman Pitts.
  • The extension of the special diabetes program for Type 1 diabetes and Indians, a priority for committee member Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY). 

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