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Camp Opening Statement: Markup of: H.R. 2810 “Medicare Patient Access and Quality Improvement Act of 2013”

December 12, 2013

For more than a decade, Congress has had to step in and prevent Medicare from cutting physician payments.  The time has come for the temporary patches and trend of uncertainty to end.  Now Congress must move a permanent repeal of the SGR physician payment formula, which will bring security to providers and the millions of seniors who rely on Medicare for their health care.  

Today’s markup is the first step toward a permanent solution ensuring seniors’ access to high quality medical care – a priority for Members on both sides of the aisle.  This important work came from many draft frameworks and strong feedback we received in a bipartisan collaboration with lawmakers of this Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee.  The bipartisan legislation we have before us today is the result of draft language and feedback from our collaboration with the Senate Finance Committee as well.  I would like to thank the Members and staff of the Ways and Means, Senate Finance and Energy and Commerce Committees for all their hard work.  I would also like to recognize our legislative counsel, Jessica Shapiro, and the rest of the team, who have worked tirelessly with our staff to produce this bill.

This legislation today provides stability for physicians so they will no longer face massive cuts, but also begins the process of improving how we pay for medical care to focus on positive outcomes and new innovative treatment options.  Importantly, the bill also gives relief from the current multiple physician incentive programs and begins to eliminate duplicative requirements.  The bill also provides real incentives and a clear pathway for physicians of all types to begin to break down the road blocks that keep them from implementing new models of providing care.  

We are taking action today because of the hard work of Members on a bipartisan basis who have kept this issue on the front burner.  We have a real opportunity to act as soon as possible because the Congressional Budget Office has lowered the estimated cost of replacing the SGR to just over $116 billion over 10 years – more than half the cost 2 years ago.  And, because of this lower score, we were able to provide modest increases as part of this proposal in the first three years.  

But we must be careful.  Though the score is the lowest ever, it must be paid for.  And I am of no illusion that finding payfors will be an easy task, it will be very difficult.  Which is why we must keep the cost low, not just to make this more likely it will pass, but also to ensure limited taxpayers’ dollars are spent wisely.

I look forward to working with the Members of this Committee to continue to improve this product.  This legislation reflects a wide range of perspectives, and that is why I am pleased that it is supported by nearly 50 different groups, including:

•    American Academy of Family Physicians
•    American Association of Nurse Practitioners
•    American College of Radiology
•    American Medical Association
•    American Osteopathic Association
•    American Society of Clinical Oncology
•    Americans for Tax Reform
•    California Medical Association
•    Prescriptions for a Healthy America
•    The National Coalition on Health Care

Without objection, I’d like to request that these, and all letters of support we have received, be submitted for the record.

We are taking an important step today toward certainty.  Our actions today move us one step closer to our goal – repealing the physician payment formula and placing security and stability into the Medicare program millions of seniors rely on.