Reps. Tim Murphy (PA-18) and Ron Kind (WI-3) today applauded passage of their bipartisan Strengthening Medicare And Repaying Taxpayers (SMART) Act, which was included as an amendment of H.R. 1848, the Medicare IVIG Access Act, by the U.S. House of Representatives. Murphy, who serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health, introduced the legislation in 2011 as part of his legislative agenda to strengthen and save Medicare.
"Today's passage is a victory for Southwestern Pennsylvania seniors," said Congressman Tim Murphy. "Over the past several years, I've heard heartbreaking stories from countless seniors in my district about the inefficiency and complicated bureaucracy of the Medicare Secondary Payer program. The last thing our seniors should be concerned with is losing their Social Security checks or Medicare coverage due to an old unsettled claim. Full passage and enactment of my bill into law would not only recoup billions of dollars owed to the Trust Fund by insurance companies--it gives our seniors the peace of mind they deserve. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to act swiftly and pass this critical legislation."
"The SMART Act cuts through red tape, creates a more effective and efficient Medicare system, and saves taxpayer dollars," said Rep. Kind. "It's a smart bill that eases the burden on seniors impacted by the Medicare Secondary Payer system while eliminating waste, ensuring that Medicare will be available for future generations."
Under the "Medicare Secondary Payer' statute, insurers, retailers, and third parties must repay Medicare if their negligence leads to medical bills for a senior citizen. However, the current system is complicated and riddled with bureaucratic delays, preventing these cases from closing and bringing in money owed to the Medicare Trust Fund.
The SMART Act requires Medicare provide the parties with accurate information about the total cost of medical bills when the parties announce a settlement is near. Without coming to a settlement, Medicare cannot recoup the money and beneficiaries are often left footing the bill. The SMART Act breaks down the bureaucratic hurdles that prevent Medicare and private insurers from closing out medical billing cases in a timely manner. Industry experts have suggested Murphy's bill could collect between $1 billion and $4 billion annually, while saving the Medicare agency countless hours of staff work pursuing claims of little or no value.
The SMART Act now awaits action by the United States Senate.
To learn more about the SMART Act, click here.