By Representative Cresent Hardy (NV-4)
On July 30th, Americans across the country proudly celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Medicare being signed into law by President Johnson. This historic event was monumental in that it established a means for providing affordable health care to Americans who are over 65 years old or disabled.
Since its founding, Medicare has been a vital source of coverage for millions of seniors who otherwise would not be able to receive basic treatments from their doctors. With over 53 million Americans currently enrolled in Medicare, it can be considered one of the greatest social advancements in our nation’s history. As with all programs, there will always be challenges that must be addressed in order for our seniors and other disabled Americans to continue to receive the type of medical care they deserve.
During my first seven months in Congress, I have been proud to work with my colleagues in the Republican-lead House of Representatives to pass important legislation designed to provide better care for Medicare recipients, while also staving off a proposed cut from the Obama Administration to Medicare Advantage.
In March, Congress addressed one of the greatest challenges to the current sustainability of Medicare by passing H.R. 2, a bipartisan piece of legislation which repealed the flawed sustainable growth rate formula for doctors’ reimbursements and effectively stopped eminent cuts to the coverage for millions of seniors. Nicknamed the “doc fix,” this law improves the way physicians would receive payment for treating Medicare patients by establishing a new formula in which the fee schedule is configured. With our action, seniors can be assured continued access to their devoted Medicare doctors.
In April, I gladly signed on to a letter sent to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in order to voice my disapproval of the proposed Medicare Advantage payment rate cuts, which was announced by the Obama Administration in February. After receiving overwhelming opposition to the proposed cuts from the general public and members of Congress, the Obama Administration has since announced that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service will be instituting a payment raise of 1.25 percent instead of the rate cut.
Although I am thrilled that the initial decision on the payment cuts was reversed, we should not continue to subject our seniors and individuals with disabilities to face these setbacks because of the Obama Administration’s desire to reform Medicare under the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I believe that we must continue to fight for our seniors, not only to provide them with the coverage that they were promised, but to ensure that Medicare remains sustainable for all future generations.