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W&M Advances Health, Tax, and Social Security Proposals

July 13, 2016

Today, the Ways and Means Committee continued its effort to advance commonsense solutions, approving four bills that will deliver real results for the American people:

The Committee unanimously passed the ESRD Choice Act (H.R. 5659), authored by Reps. Jason Smith (R-MO) and John Lewis (D-GA). This bipartisan bill will remove the current restriction on end stage renal disease – or ESRD – patients so they can access the affordable, effective, integrated health care options that Medicare Advantage provides. The legislation also would protect low-income ESRD patients from high out-of-pocket health care costs by providing access to MA’s catastrophic coverage. As Rep. Smith said:

ESRD is the only pre-existing condition that explicitly prevents patients from enrolling in Medicare Advantage, and it’s time to remove that pre-existing condition. The benefits of Medicare Advantage should be extended to all ESRD patients, it’s the right thing to do.”

The Committee then unanimously passed the SHIFT Act (H.R. 5713), introduced by Health Subcommittee Chairman Pat Tiberi (R-OH). This bipartisan bill will provide targeted relief for Long-Term Care Hospitals (LTCHs) across the country. As Rep. Tiberi explained:

“The Sustaining Healthcare Integrity and Fair Treatment Act, the SHIFT Act, will give relief to all LTCHs from the 25 percent rule. This CMS rule, which has been delayed for ten years, allows for no more than 25 percent of patients to come from one inpatient acute hospital in one quarter. My bill will reinstate the 50 percent threshold that was in effect prior to July 1, 2016 and delay the rule for nine months.”

Shifting the focus to tax, the Committee then approved H.R. 3608. The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Tiberi and has bipartisan, bicameral support, would resolve potential ambiguities in the ticket tax regarding the treatment of aircraft management services. As Rep. Tiberi said:

“This bipartisan bill simply clarifies that the tax on commercial air transportation, also called the ‘ticket tax,’ does not apply to aircraft management services for general aviation flights that do not use tickets. … For decades it has been clear, and Congress has specifically noted, that commercial aviation is required to pay the ticket tax, while general aviation pays the fuel tax. However, the chief counsel of the IRS ignored this and seeks to impose a tax where Congress expressly chose not to apply one.”

Last, the Committee advanced a bill to help combat the growing problem of identity theft. Authored by Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH), the Social Security MAIL Act (H.R. 5320) requires the Social Security Administration to remove Social Security Numbers from all mailings and justify when the inclusion is necessary. As Rep. Johnson said:

Social Security makes a point of telling Americans how important it is to protect their Social Security Numbers. Time and time again, they’re warned to protect their cards in order to avoid identity theft and to be careful what they throw in the trash. … We got it done with Medicare Cards but there’s more to be done.”

A victim of identity theft himself, Rep. Renacci added:

“Ensuring that all of your various accounts are protected is no easy task and in my case, took hours of phone calls to ensure that I was properly protected. Senior citizens should have the confidence in knowing that the Social Security Administration is doing everything within their power to protect their Social Security Numbers and identities.”

In the months ahead, the Ways and Means Committee will continue its work to advance commonsense solutions that improve the lives of all Americans.

CLICK HERE to learn more about today’s markup.