US House Approves TX Congressman’s Fix to Medicare Reimbursement for Doctors

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal the 1997 Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) law to better compensate doctors treating patients on Medicare. The Resolution, H.R. 4015, was authored by Texas Republican Congressman Michael Burgess, M.D. Twelve Democrats joined 225 Republicans in supporting the bill.

In a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas after the vote, Congressman Burgess said, “I’m happy to report that the House has voted for a bipartisan policy solution to modernize a system that has caused nothing but headaches for America’s seniors and their doctors. The house has voted 17 times for patches or ‘Doc Fixes.’ If the SGR went into effect this April, it would mean a 25% reduction in provider payments. The House has finally declared that we cannot continue to kick the can down the road and patch the SGR each year – we must repeal it, and we did.”

"Now," Burgess continued, “seniors will no longer be denied the care they need because their doctors cannot afford to treat them. According to a report by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the resolution will create stability and five years of payment updates for physicians who treat Medicare patients. The proposal will remove the “imminent threat of draconian cuts to Medicare providers.” It puts forward a five-year program of annual updates of 0.5 percent as a new system is put in place.”

During a floor debate broadcast on C-SPAN, Democrats stood against the resolution and procedural matters they claim keep them from properly debating and amending the resolution. Jay Flietman, with the Hampshire Gazette, reminded readers that “Nancy Pelosi, seized the opportunity to force through a major overhaul of one-sixth of the national economy with no avenue for advise and consent for Republicans, and no allowance for discussion or amendment,” during the Obamacare debates.

Democrats are not the only ones opposed to the resolution. Heritage Foundation’s Robert Moffit, Ph.D., wrote, the resolution “does not significantly reverse the trend—accelerated by Obamacare—toward greater federal supervision and control over medical practice. Worse, neither the House bill nor the Senate legislation would be financed in such a fashion as to protect taxpayers from higher deficit spending.”

Moffit states the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the proposal to repeal and replace the SGR would add an estimated $138 billion in new Medicare spending. “The Heritage Foundation has already warned that the House funding mechanism would result in deficit spending beyond the 10-year budget window. Likewise, the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that over the period 2020 to 2024, the House bill would increase deficits by $49 billion,” Moffit reported.

Congressman Burgess put forward this video about the issue prior to the House vote:

The Texas Medical Association (TMA), however, gave strong support to the legislation. In a letter from TMA President Stephen Brotherton, M.D. to Congressman Burgess posted on the Congressman’s website, the TMA states, “On behalf of the 47,000-plus physician and medical student members of the Texas Medical Association, I am writing to reiterate our strong support for the work you have done to effectuate the repeal of Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula.”

Dr. Brotherton praised the work of Burgess and fellow Texas Republican Congressman Kevin Brady, “You have worked tirelessly to craft a piece of legislation that not only repeals the SGR immediately, but also guarantees positive updates for physicians for five years, removes potential causes of liability against physicians, and eliminates some unnecessary bureaucratic red tape that prevents physicians from concentrating on patient care.”

Rep. Burgess closed his statement discussing the bi-partisan nature of this bill and said, “But perhaps most importantly, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, in both chambers and on all three committees of jurisdiction have finally shown they can work together in an effective manner on policy so important to America’s seniors. It’s now up to the Senate to take up this important bill and repeal a system that simply doesn’t work.”

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