The “Seniors’ Access to Timely Care Act” gets seniors the care they need faster, and doctors can get back to what they do best – treating patients, Republican Leader of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) said in opening remarks before a full committee mark-up of H.R. 8487. Rep. Buchanan is a cosponsor of the bill.
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Rep. Buchanan’s full remarks as prepared for delivery appear below.
Thank you, Ranking Member Brady and thank you to Chairman Neal for bringing this bill up for consideration today.
Care delayed is care denied, and the burdensome prior authorization process that Medicare Advantage plans have in place is often the biggest barrier preventing seniors from accessing the care they need when they need it.
Today we’re marking up the Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act, a bill I proudly cosponsored, that will make much-needed adjustments to Medicare Advantage’s system of prior authorization.
I have the honor of representing 240,000 seniors in Southwest Florida, and my constituents support Medicare Advantage and increasingly continue choosing this private option because it offers more robust benefits at a more affordable cost.
One county in my district already has over 50 percent enrollment in a Medicare Advantage plan instead of traditional Medicare, and that number only continues to grow. Florida as a whole has over 50 percent Medicare Advantage enrollment statewide, and according to CBO, the program is projected to cover over 50 percent of ALL American seniors by 2030.
We all recognize that prior authorization is a useful tool for Medicare Advantage plans in certain circumstances in order to protect the program and taxpayers from billions of dollars in waste, fraud, and abuse. But this system is also in dire need of modernization.
When providers have to rely on fax machines and missed voicemails to get a service approved, they have less time to see patients, and seniors are stuck waiting for the care their doctors determined they need. This isn’t right, and it’s time we fix the system.
The bill before us today will bring the prior authorization process into the 21st century and allow for decisions to be made in real-time for routine services. Seniors can get the care they need faster, and doctors can get back to what they do best – treating patients.
I want to thank the Chairman and Ranking Member for scheduling this mark-up, I look forward to voting yes on the bill.