Legislative Update for Week Ending July 5, 2013

Legislative Update for Week Ending July 5, 2013

Action on Capitol Hill slowed down this week as Members of Congress returned to their home states and districts for the week-long holiday recess. Meanwhile, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) announced its support for Medicare fraud prevention legislation, and one key bill gained a new cosponsor.

TSCL Supports New Legislation

This week, TSCL enthusiastically announced its support for the Preventing and Reducing Improper Medicare and Medicaid Expenditures (PRIME) Act (S. 1123 and H.R. 2305). In the Senate, the bill was introduced by Sens. Tom Carper (DE) and Tom Coburn (OK), and in the House, it was introduced by Reps. Peter Roskam (IL-6) and John Carney (DE). It currently has bipartisan support, with fifteen cosponsors in the Senate and ten in the House.

If signed into law, the PRIME Act would take a number of steps to prevent and reduce fraud, waste, and abuse within the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Among other things, it would enact stronger fraud penalties, curb mistaken payments by the agencies, phase out the ineffective “pay and chase” practice, reduce the theft of physician identities, and improve the sharing of fraud data among states, agencies, and programs.

TSCL is very supportive of the PRIME Act, since we believe that the failure to manage fraud results in higher taxes for all and higher premiums for Medicare beneficiaries. In addition, at a time when many deficit hawks are considering cuts to programs like Medicare and Medicaid, we believe it is critically important to ensure that scarce program dollars are being spent properly. TSCL looks forward to working with the sponsors of the PRIME Act to help build support for it, and we are hopeful that Congress will pass it into law by the end of the 113th Congress.

Key Bill Gains Support

One new cosponsor – Rep. Denny Heck (WA-10) – signed on to Rep. Allyson Schwartz’s (PA-13) Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act (H.R. 574) this week, bringing the total up to thirty-three. The bill, if signed into law, would repeal and replace the faulty formula that is currently used to determine reimbursements for physicians who treat Medicare patients.

TSCL strongly believes that the current formula breeds uncertainty within the Medicare program. Some doctors have stopped accepting Medicare patients due to the steep pay cuts that the formula regularly calls for, and many more are threatening to do so if a permanent solution is not established soon. Rep. Schwartz’s bill would do just that, bringing much-needed stability to the program for both doctors and seniors. TSCL enthusiastically supports H.R. 574, and we were pleased to see support grow for it this week.