Last week, the House passed legislation that permanently replaces Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula with a more stable payment system that will ensure seniors’ access to their doctor and save taxpayers billions.  The measure also represents the first major entitlement reform in decades, with two structural changes – means testing and Medigap reform – that will strengthen the Medicare program and put it on a more sustainable path. 

“The bill is a big deal” Valley News writes, along with numerous other editorial boards that are praising the measure:

  • Akron Beacon Journal: “Involves Actual Problem-Solving” “This isn’t compromise legislation that merely splits differences. The bill involves actual problem-solving. … Speaker Boehner described the legislation as the end of ‘one of Washington’s most infamous budget gimmicks.’  It is that, and much more, in particular, the changes to Medicare, including modest premium increases for higher-income recipients, pointing to responsible entitlement reform. Mostly, this is about sound legislating, the give and take that finds both sides gaining, along with the country as a whole.”
  • Valley News: “The Bill Is a Big Deal” “The bill is a big deal, especially because it fixes a perplexing problem that has bedeviled Congress for years. It replaces the current broken system of Medicare physician payments with one that rewards quality of care instead of the volume of services provided. This has long been a goal of health care reformers who seek to encourage better care at lower costs, and provides a measure of much-needed predictability to the provider payment system.”
  • Tampa Bay Times: “Would Put the Program on More Solid Ground” “The sweeping Medicare bill the U.S. House approved last week accomplished two big things: It would put the program on more solid ground, and it demonstrated what Congress can achieve when it works in a bipartisan fashion. … These reforms will bring a level of certainty to doctors and patients, and they create a better path to preventive health care. They also will focus the health care industry on quality instead of volume, which is important for Medicare as the nation's population ages.”
  • Miami Herald: “Holy Grail in the Realm of Healthcare” “The bill, which passed the House by a vote of 392-37, is a kind of Holy Grail in the realm of healthcare. It changes the way doctors are paid for treating Medicare patients, permanently blocking payment cuts that, all sides agree, are unfair to everyone involved.”
  • San Jose Mercury News: “Crucial Health Care Legislation” “House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi compromised on crucial health care legislation last week for the good of all Americans, and the deal actually passed by a resounding 392-37 vote.”
  • Tampa Bay Tribune: “Will Result in Better Outcomes for Millions of Patients” “Known as the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, the bill ends the game Congress played each year when calculating the fees doctors are paid under Medicare. … eliminating the flawed formula that caused the annual short-term fix, and putting in place some guarantees for doctors, health associations and hospitals, will result in better outcomes for millions of patients.”

In remarks on the House floor last week, Boehner touted the measure as part of a larger effort to address the major drivers of our debt, saying “today is about a problem much bigger than any ‘doc fix’ or deadline.  It’s about solving our spending problem – and it’s about strengthening and saving Medicare, which is at the heart of that problem.”  And while the bill makes some critical, substantive reforms, Boehner also reiterated the need for further action: “We know more serious entitlement reform is needed.  It shouldn’t take another two decades to do it – and frankly, it can’t take that long.

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