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Ryan Opening Statement: Markup of Important Health Care Legislation

June 2, 2015 — Opening Statements   

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

WASHINGTON — Today, House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) delivered the following opening statement during a markup of ten important health care bills designed to strengthen and improve Medicare.

“So, we’re marking up ten bills today. I’ll have more to say on two of these bills later. But right now, I want to tie them all together. Every one of these bills would fix a different part of Medicare, but all of them would change the very focus of Medicare. That is, they’d put seniors first. They’d make the program more transparent, more accessible, and therefore more accountable. Seniors would know more about how Medicare works, and that would help them find the best possible care.

“It’d be a big improvement. Right now, Medicare is sort of a black box. The bureaucrats who run the program make all kinds of decisions about seniors’ care without much input—or any input—from seniors themselves. And some of these decisions are downright baffling. Out of the blue, the powers that be will decide they’ll pay for only a very specific type of medical device—a type that’s basically unusable.

“And then there are the laws that make no sense at all. Today, we tax medical devices—things like heart valves and pacemakers—the very things that save lives. It’s an iron law of economics that when you tax something, you get less of it. So we’ve really got our wires crossed here. We want more medical devices. What we want less of is this bureaucratic meddling. That’s why one of these bills would repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a board of 15 unelected bureaucrats that could cut Medicare’s payments to doctors and essentially ration care.

“Every one of these bills would peel back the curtain on the bureaucrats in Washington. We’re not asking for much. We’re saying things like, ‘Tell us how many people enroll in Medicare Advantage. In fact, give people more time to enroll in Medicare Advantage. And while you’re at it, give the public more time to review proposed regulations. Explain why you’re changing reimbursement rates. Support pilot programs that let plans customize benefits for seniors. And try new methods that put patients first—like other forms of home care.’ I know Mr. Roskam will have more to say on that later.

“So, add all these bills up, and the message is pretty simple: Don’t make seniors follow bureaucrats’ orders. Make bureaucrats follow seniors’ orders. Put seniors in charge of their health care. That will strengthen Medicare for all.

“I know this is a topic where a lot of us don’t see eye to eye. But I’m happy to say a lot of these bills have broad, bipartisan support. I’d like to think they’re just common sense. And I’m glad we as a committee are working together to help our seniors live happier, healthier lives.”