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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the chairwoman of the Rules Committee for yielding, and I urge support for the rule, as amended.
For far too long, Members on both sides of the aisle have talked about the need to reform the way we pay physicians under Medicare and provide them with a fair and reliable reimbursement. Today, unless we act, physicians are facing a 21 percent cut in their reimbursement, and such a drastic cut will drive physicians out of the Medicare program and make it harder for seniors to see a doctor.
Mr. Speaker, if we fail to act, people will be harmed. I've already seen it take place back in my district. I've had patients call me to say that their doctors will no longer take Medicare because of the cuts they are faced with. House Democrats have tried to prevent this from happening. Last year, we passed a bill that would have permanently repealed the flawed formula that results in these annual cuts and replaced it with a more stable payment system. But that bill passed the House with only the support of one Republican, and, unfortunately, the Senate was not able to find the support for a permanent fix.
So we've been forced back to legislating by patchwork, a 6-month extension here, a 60-day extension there. But if our Senate colleagues cannot find the votes for a permanent repeal, then we need to provide the longest relief that we can. This bill will provide doctors with a positive update for the rest of this year and next year that will help doctors cover their growing costs and continue to serve Medicare patients, and it will give those of us in Congress more time to work with the physician community to find a workable solution that can pass both the House and the Senate, hopefully with Republican support.
The policy in this bill is not everything I hoped for. I know the physician community wanted more, but it's important to pass this to make sure we do no harm, by preventing those drastic cuts from taking effect.
So I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to vote ``yes.'' This is a very important piece of legislation.
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