(Washington, D.C.) Today the House passed H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. Representative Charlie Dent (PA-15) voted for the legislation, which passed with a strong bipartisan vote of 392 to 37. The legislation permanently repeals and replaces Medicare’s flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula.
“Today’s vote ensures access for the millions of seniors in America who rely on Medicare for their health coverage. Congress will no longer have to revisit this issue on a seemingly annual basis, to make sure health care providers aren’t faced with devastating payment cuts,” said Dent.
Since enactment in 1997, Congress has been forced to act seventeen times to block reductions in reimbursement rates to Medicare providers. Without Congressional action before March 31st, physicians seeing Medicare patients will see an automatic 21 percent reduction in Medicare payments.
“Cuts of this nature would be catastrophic,” Dent noted. “You’d have physicians leaving the program and refusing to see patients on Medicare.”
Unlike previous efforts by Congress to deal with this issue, H.R. 2 will establish a new system for physician reimbursement that rewards quality and value and returns stability to Medicare physician payments. Further, H.R. 2 includes two-year extensions of funding for primary care services that benefit millions of low-income Americans in rural communities where medical care is not easily accessible. Programs like Community Health Centers, the National Health Service Corps and the Teaching Health Centers program would have seen their funding expire at the end of this year, cutting off access to millions of low-income Americans to primary and preventative health care.
H.R. 2 also fully funds the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two years through Fiscal Year 2017. CHIP covers more than 8 million children and pregnant women in families that earn income above Medicaid eligibility levels – but is based on the private coverage model.
“The overwhelming vote in favor of this legislation is a very important step by this Congress,” noted Dent enthusiastically. “It demonstrates to the American people that Congress has the capacity to work together and govern for the good of the country. It is my hope that this same legislative model can be employed for other important issues such as tax reform, trade, transportation, and cyber security,” Dent concluded.
CONTACT: Shawn Millan (610) 770-3490