With Congress set to reconvene for the fall session, I've been working with the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to call up my Strengthening Medicare And Repaying Taxpayers Act (HR 1063) for a vote. This bill, known as the SMART Act, is another legislative effort I've undertaken to strengthen and save Medicare. I'm reaching out to you about this bill because you or a family member may be personally impacted by this legislation.
Under a current law known as "Medicare Secondary Payer', insurers, retailers, and third parties must repay Medicare if their negligence leads to medical bills for a senior citizen. But the current system is complicated and riddled with bureaucratic delays. My bill fixes these problems and recoups billions of dollars owed by insurance companies to the Medicare Trust Fund.
The SMART Act requires that Medicare provide the parties with accurate information about the total cost of medical bills when a plaintiff and defendant agree to settle an injury claim. Simply put, this legislation aims to break down bureaucratic hurdles that prevent Medicare and private insurers from closing out medical billing cases in a timely manner. If the parties don't have that claims information, they cannot reach a settlement, Medicare cannot recoup its money, and beneficiaries are often left footing the bill. Industry experts have suggested that my bill could collect between $1 billion and $4 billion annually owed to the Trust Fund, while saving the Medicare agency countless hours of staff work pursuing claims of little or no value.
I've heard heartbreaking stories of senior citizens who were owed money from a settlement but have been unable to collect it because of these delays at Medicare. I've also heard of seniors being denied coverage for medical treatment because bureaucratic error led Medicare to believe a senior citizen still owed money to the Trust Fund. Any senior citizen at risk of losing their Medicare coverage or seeing their Social Security check garnished because of a Medicare billing issue should contact my office immediately at (412) 344-5583. My staff and I may be able to help in resolving those issues.
We have an opportunity with the SMART Act to be responsible stewards of the Trust Fund by breaking down these barriers to get more dollars into Medicare and help shore up system. My legislation protects the Medicare benefits that you spent a lifetime working and paying into, which is why I introduced this bill and look forward to its passage in the House this fall.
If you have been impacted by a Medicare Secondary Payer issue please share your story with me. I am working to educate my colleagues and help people understand this issue. Personal stories can be a powerful tool in illustrating the direct impact on seniors and why this problem needs to be fixed. Click here to share your thoughts on this bill and tell me your ideas on how to strengthen and save Medicare.
Member of Congress