The Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), today approved two health bills: one to create efficiencies in Medicare to protect seniors and taxpayers, and another to prevent job loss due to Obamacare regulations.
The Strengthening Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers (SMART) Act (H.R. 1063), authored by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), creates efficiencies in the Medicare Secondary Payer program to speed up the process of returning money to the Medicare Trust Fund while reducing costly legal barriers for both large and small employers.
"Although Congress has sought to improve Medicare Secondary Payer over the years, most recently in 2007, problems still persist," stated Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). "Today, many injury claims cannot be settled in a timely or conclusive manner because of the actions of CMS. The SMART Act makes several improvements to the Medicare Secondary Payer statute to fix these problems, which will benefit Medicare beneficiaries and taxpayers alike."
H.R. 1063 was approved by voice vote.
The committee also approved the Access to Professional Health Insurance Advisors Act (H.R. 1206), authored by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), which is a bipartisan measure that addresses the devastating consequences of the president's health care law for insurance agents and brokers, which have a ripple effect on the insurance market and consumers.
During a September 15, 2011, hearing, witnesses testified that the Medical Loss Ratio requirement, otherwise known as the MLR rule, has created a "desperate economic situation" for a half-million insurance agents and brokers. This requirement could force agents to leave the market or significantly limit their plan offerings, creating a level of disruption that would quickly destabilize the market and threaten the ability of insurers to continue offering plans and make it more difficult for patients to find affordable health plans that best meet their needs.
Upton said, "The Access to Professional Health Insurance Advisors Act is a bipartisan solution that begins to address this growing problem created by the health care law. The legislation has 220 cosponsors and has the support of conservatives and progressives alike This much needed change will help stem the negative impacts of the MLR on America's agents and brokers, many of whom are small businesses. This bill will also ensure families and employers continue to have access to qualified professionals who can assist them in finding an affordable, high quality health plan."
H.R. 1206 was approved 26 to 14.