Ranking Member Lewis Opening Statement at Oversight Subcommittee Hearing on Medicare

Jul 19, 2017
Press Release

(Remarks as prepared)

Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing.  I also would like to thank our witnesses for taking time to be with us today.

As you know, Mr. Chairman, this Subcommittee’s work touches many areas, and protecting and preserving Medicare is one of our most important duties.  Last year, Medicare paid nearly $700 billion for health services. 

This program is a lifeline for over 57 million elderly and disabled beneficiaries, and we must ensure that Medicare remains sound and strong for all who rely upon it.  I deeply believe that preventing fraud is key to this mission. 

In 2016, the Medicare fee-for-service program paid an estimated $41 billion in improper payments, and the Medicare Advantage program paid about $16 billion in improper payments.  We must work together to bring these numbers down.  We cannot let the bad actions of a few ruin the promise of Medicare for generations yet unborn.

Yet, as we recommit to fighting fraud, we should be cautious.  Our first priority should be to ensure that beneficiaries have access to quality and life-saving services. 

As Medicare transforms to reward quality instead of quantity, this administration must continue President Obama’s work to fight new forms of fraud.  They must continue the Affordable Care Act’s investments and innovations in preventing fraud before it happens.  Reducing fraudulent, wasteful, or improper payments are critically important parts of keeping the promise to protect the life of the Medicare Trust Fund for all who rely on it. 

This is not a partisan matter; it is a question of preserving the sacred trust of our seniors, families in need, and people living with disabilities.  It is a question of doing what is right and what is just.

Again, Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing.  I look forward to the testimony.