Rep. Brad Ellsworth today backed legislation to prevent cuts in the fees paid to doctors to treat Medicare patients and preserve seniors' access to their doctors. The Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act will permanently reform the Medicare payment system, preventing a 21% cut in payments to doctors scheduled to take place in January.
"For too long, Congress has used smoke and mirrors and budget gimmicks to put off fixing this problem," said Ellsworth. "By addressing it head-on, we can ensure that seniors will continue to receive quality, affordable health care from their doctors of choice."
This is only one of many efforts underway to protect and strengthen Medicare for America's seniors. Earlier this month, Ellsworth supported the Affordable Health Care for America Act, which closes the so-called donut hole, a gap in Part D prescription drug coverage that forces many seniors to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for medications. According to CMS, about 10,000 seniors in the 8th District fell into the donut hole last year. And a report by non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation found that of the estimated 3.4 million Americans who were affected in 2007, 15% stopped taking their prescription drugs as a result.
"Seniors who are battling chronic diseases face a number of challenges; accessing potentially life-saving medications shouldn't be one of them," said Ellsworth. "Unfortunately, current policies say only those who can afford to pay deserve to be treated. I think our seniors deserve better, and this bill took some important steps to ensure all of America's seniors have access to quality, affordable health care."
The bill also included provisions restoring mandatory pay-as-you-go budget rules. The legislation requires new government spending to be paid for through budget cuts or other savings. These same rules were in place during the 1990's, and some experts attribute them to budget surpluses during that period.
"Restoring fiscal responsibility can't just be a Democratic goal or a Republican goal. We must all work together to reign in unnecessary spending and make the tough choices to get our fiscal house in order," said Ellsworth. "Statutory PAYGO is the first step on the journey back to restoring fiscal responsibility in Washington."