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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, on January 1, 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began implementing a final rule to prohibit compounding pharmacies that prepare medications used in implanted infusion pumps from billing Medicare directly for these services. This reverses a policy that has been permissible in several States for over 20 years. Since the proposed change in May 2011, I have worked with Senator WICKER and other Members of Congress to delay this change until its effects have been fully considered.

During the public comment period for this rule, pharmacies, physicians, and patients overwhelmingly opposed this policy change. In Mississippi, the State board of pharmacy prohibits pharmacies from selling compounded pain medications to physicians, resulting in decreased access to effective treatments for chronic pain disorders. States across the nation are coming to realize the negative implications of this policy change.

With this final rule, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has not fully taken into account patient impact or State regulations. In addition, pharmacies that bill Medicare must comply with Federal accreditation rules, further enhancing patient safety. We should protect patient access to effective treatments rather than hinder it. This bill would allow compounding pharmacies to continue to bill Medicare directly for their services in the interest of helping patients receive the quality care they deserve.

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Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, I am pleased to join the junior Senator from Virginia in introducing the American Battlefield Protection Program Amendments Act. I doubt there has been a more defining period in this country's history than the Civil War. The scars left by that conflict were deep and slow to heal. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the first major Civil War battle in the western theater and with Memorial Day approaching, the preservation of historic battlefields reminds Americans of those who have fought and died for freedom. Stressing preservation, commemoration, and education, the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program, for almost 15 years, has partnered with neighboring communities to promote resource protection and heritage tourism. By bringing together local, State, and national stakeholders to preserve America's most historically significant Civil War battlefields, the program has built a consensus to protect 19,000 acres of hallowed ground in 16 states. In my state, more than 3,300 acres of related Civil War battles have been protected. Among the many other battlefields that have benefited from this program are: Antietam, Maryland; Averasboro, North Carolina; Chancellorsville, Virginia; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; Harpers Ferry, West Virginia; Mill Springs, Kentucky; and Prairie Grove, Arkansas. I am pleased that this legislation will extend program eligibility to Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields. This is an appropriate time for the Congress to embrace this legislation and to preserve and discover our history, our culture and our individual stories. By highlighting the history and cultural significance of these battle sites, we can help maintain our sense of place as Americans. With it, we can be more aware of our history and reflect upon how we have become who we are as individuals and who we are collectively as Americans. It is an investment in the preservation of our history and culture, which is well spent.

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