Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2014by Representative Joseph R. Pitts
Posted on 2013-12-12
PITTS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute.
Mr. Speaker, every year for the last decade, doctors have faced an ever-increasing cut to their reimbursement under the sustainable growth rate, or SGR. And every year, Congress intervenes with a doc fix to stop the cut from going into effect--15 times since 2003.
The Pathway for SGR Reform Act will postpone the cut, providing a 0.5 percent update to physicians for the next 3 months. While this is a necessary and important bill, I am disappointed that legislation to permanently repeal the flawed SGR formula will not be considered before the end of the year. Doctors deserve to know that they will be fairly compensated, and this annual uncertainty about reimbursements could lead to access problems for Medicare beneficiaries.
The Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee worked for 2 years and produced a bipartisan bill that successfully moved through the full committee with unanimous support. I regret that this bill is not on the floor today. However, I urge all of my colleagues to support H.J. Res. 59 to prevent this devastating cut from going into effect on January 1.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I want to express my disappointment that we are letting unemployment insurance be denied to so many long-term unemployed, especially a few days right after Christmas. We should not leave town until we have fixed this problem.
I am going to vote for this budget because it will ease the irrational sequestration cuts that have already done so much harm to our country and our economy, which is the main reason that I am going to be an ``aye'' vote on the bill.
But I am here to speak on behalf of the Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats to express my strong support for the temporary reprieve from the, what is called, SGR cuts, the cuts to physicians who see Medicare patients.
Congress is making enormous strides toward the repeal and replacement of the flawed Medicare physician payment system, but more time is going to be needed to finish the job. As of today, all three congressional committees of jurisdiction have marked up historic bipartisan legislation that moves the system to one that rewards value of care rather than volume of care.
This short-term extension that is part of this bill will allow 3 months for Congress to complete floor and conference action on this legislation. We need to keep this process moving full steam ahead to get a permanent solution on both the SGR as well as the other Medicare and Medicaid extenders as quickly as possible. This temporary patch will allow us the time to continue that work.
I do have serious concerns with both the Medicare and Medicaid policies in the Budget Act. The Medicaid provisions will result in delayed payments to providers for 3 months while States seek out payment from other potential sources. This is simply bad policy. Congress would not dream of allowing Medicare to avoid paying for services for 3 months, yet this is the policy that we are going to adopt for Medicaid.
The other Medicaid provision overturns a Supreme Court case which would allow a State that would take a beneficiary's liability settlement that is intended to compensate for lost wages or future medical costs to pay for Medicaid services. Indeed, the language, as drafted, suggests that the State could collect amounts even in excess of the amount the party was liable for. This provision is unconscionable, and I hope that when we come back, we can fix it.
Further, the extension of the sequester on Medicare--we are relieving the sequester on the defense side and the domestic spending side under appropriations, but we are leaving in place a sequestration of Medicare, which means continuing cuts into the future without any policy rationale. We are talking about cuts to doctors and hospitals and other providers. There is no justification for it. And, in addition, there are cuts that are going to be applied by continuing this part of the sequestration to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of much-needed resources to carry out their many responsibilities. This is not a good way to make law, and it will result in some unfortunate consequences. We need to fix that again when we come back next year.
But I expressed my support for this short-term extension of not just the SGR but also the other expiring Medicare and Medicaid provisions, including the TMA and QI, which are critical for low-income populations. And I look forward to addressing the issues of SGR and the extenders with our colleagues over the next few months to develop a permanent solution.
With that, Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. PITTS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the distinguished gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Upton), the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.