Owens Votes to Protect Medicare and TRICARE

Submitted by Cong. Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh)

WASHINGTON – Congressman Bill Owens voted to protect access to doctors for both Medicare beneficiaries and military families by voting in favor of the Senate Amendments to H.R. 4994, the Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act. The legislation ensures seniors and military families will be able to continue to see their doctors by blocking a scheduled 25 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors that participate in the program. Passage of Senate Amendments to the previously passed House bill will send H.R 4994 directly to the President’s desk for his signature.

“It is critical to the stability of the health care system that Medicare is protected, and this bill just does that. Additionally, because TRICARE benefits are tied to Medicare rates, this fix serves to strengthen the Fort Drum community by providing certainty to service members and their families that their coverage will not change,” said Owens.

H.R. 4994 prevents for one year a 25 percent cut in Medicare and TRICARE payments to doctors that is scheduled to occur under the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula on January 1. For nearly a decade, Congress has used short-term patches to prevent imminent cuts to how doctors who treat Medicare patients are paid as a result of this misguided formula.

“Moving forward, I’m committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to repeal the SGR and establish a new physician payment system that ends the uncertainty for patients and doctors.” added Owens. “As we revisit the policy, I am confident that both parties will begin to come together and do what is best for the American people by working to cut costs while improving access to quality care.”

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reports that H.R. 4994 will reduce the deficit by $2.8 billion over the next 10 years. The legislation does this by changing policy in the Affordable Care Act that fixes overpayments of tax credits provided in state exchanges. The change involves the way an individual pays back overpayments when they have received a larger tax credit than they are eligible for because their income ended up being higher than expected in a given year.

The Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act is supported by the AARP and the American Medical Association.