WASHINGTON — Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) delivered the following opening statement during the committee markup of a series of health care bills, including the Protecting the Integrity of Medicare Act of 2015 introduced by Health Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Ranking Member Jim McDermott (D-WA).
“So before we get started, I wanted to say a few words. The reason we‘re here today is to strengthen Medicare . . . to make the program work better. That‘s something we all can agree on. I‘m pleased that we were able to put together a series of bills in a bipartisan way.
“Take our first bill, the Protecting the Integrity of Medicare Act. The idea is pretty simple: Nonpartisan watchdogs, like GAO, have long said that Medicare is a ‘high risk program‘ that is susceptible to fraud. And every dollar lost to fraud is a dollar lost to our seniors. So the way we see it, we have a responsibility to protect seniors and taxpayers alike.
“And we can do that by making some commonsense reforms: Take Social Security numbers off of Medicare cards. Fix common billing mistakes. Make it easier for Medicare to procure innovative contractors to process claims. And make it easier for those contractors to communicate with seniors. These are relatively modest changes. But put them all together, and you have a healthier, stronger Medicare program that works better for seniors, doctors, and taxpayers alike.
“So I‘m pretty proud of this bill, and I‘m proud of how we put it together. This is how the process should work. Chairman Brady, Mr. McDermott, and many of our members worked together. They shared ideas. We held hearings. There was a discussion draft. We got feedback from stakeholders and members. It was the collaborative process at its best. So I want to congratulate our members on a job well done.
“Now, we‘re also working on three other bills today. They also will strengthen Medicare. They also have bipartisan support. I‘ve said that I intend for this committee to return to regular order. We‘re going to consider as many members‘ bills as we can. And that‘s just what we‘re doing today.
“The members of this committee haven‘t always seen eye-to-eye on health care. And that‘s OK. We shouldn‘t shy away from our differences. But when we have a chance to find common ground—to move our country forward—we shouldn‘t shy away from that either. That‘s the reason we‘re here today. And I want to thank all our members and staff for their hard work.“