Editorials across the country continue to praise House-passed legislation to strengthen the Medicare program and preserve seniors’ access to their doctors, calling the measure “an important marker of progress in the area of entitlement reform.”  The bill permanently replaces Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula with a more stable payment system, preventing cuts to Medicare providers that will otherwise take effect in the near term.  A new round of editorials are calling on the Senate to act: 

  • The Citizens’ Voice: “The Senate Should Pass It” “In that regard, the bill simply ends an annual charade rather than increasing actual costs, since savings that were supposed to begin in 1997 are only on paper.  The compromise represents good work by Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The Senate should pass it and send it to President Barack Obama, who supports it.”
  • Deseret News: “Important Marker of Progress in the Area of Entitlement Reform” “A strong bipartisan vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to change the way Medicare payments are disbursed may or may not represent a thaw in the stranglehold that has frozen Congress in recent years, but it certainly is an important marker of progress in the area of entitlement reform.”
  • Chicago Tribune: “Take This Step Toward Medicare’s Survival” “Medicare can’t thrive deep into this century without major fiscal surgery. Part of that is finding ways to pay doctors not to do more, but to do better. That’s what this bipartisan legislation does. … Senators, make this your first vote when you return. Take this step toward Medicare’s survival — for today’s seniors, and tomorrow’s.”
  • The Olympian: “Should Be Supported by Both Sides of the Political Aisle” “In theory this year’s agreement would end the yearly drama that requires last-minute votes to avoid automatic cuts in Medicare reimbursements to physicians, which this year were estimated to be about 21 percent.  Cuts that deep would be hardships, if not catastrophic for doctors and patients, especially if fewer doctors were to accept Medicare patients. … Given political realities in the Other Washington, action needs to come quickly, and it should be supported by both sides of the political aisle.”
  • The New York Times: “A Rare Chance to Solve a Long-Festering Problem” “[T]his appears to be a rare chance to solve a long-festering problem, and Congress should approve this bill.”
  • Norwich Bulletin: “A ‘Win for the American People’” “House Speaker John Boehner was right on the money in calling the bipartisan plan a ‘win for the American people’ and the first serious entitlement reform in the last two decades. … It would be tragic if this spirit of cooperation were to whither from inaction. Worse, it would be a travesty to return to the past practices of just kicking the can down the road one more time, especially with a reasonable and responsible compromise on the table.  Providing physicians with a permanent stabilized reimbursement fee structure for health care services is long overdue.”

There’s good reason the House-passed Medicare bill has garnered broad, bipartisan support.  First, it includes two structural Medicare reforms – means testing and Medigap reform – that have long been backed by experts on both sides of the aisle and will put the program on a more sustainable path.  Second, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the measure will result in billions of dollars of savings for taxpayers over the long term – 20, 30, even 40 years down the road.  And third, it puts a stop to one of Washington’s perennial budget gimmicks – the SGR formula – that has been patched 17 times over the last 11 years and created a significant amount of uncertainty for Medicare providers.   It is an important step toward broader entitlement reform and, having passed the House by an overwhelming margin, deserves Senate approval as well.