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Pascrell Praises House Measure to Roll Back Medicare Privatization Efforts

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC



U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08) a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means today voted in the House of Representatives to approve passage of legislation that would eliminate the pending 10 percent cut in Medicare payments to physicians for the remainder of 2008 and provide a 1.1 percent update in Medicare physicians payments for 2009. The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act was approved under suspension of the rules by a veto proof majority of 355-59.

"I was proud to join a veto-proof majority in the House today to act in the best interest of Medicare patients, physicians, pharmacies and other care providers," stated Pascrell. "Rolling back the Bush administration's efforts to privatize Medicare is a critical first step in extending the program's long term solvency. With passage of this legislation, Congress has a unique opportunity to upend years of the Bush Administration's destructive attempts privatize Medicare. I urge my Senate colleagues to take a close look at our legislation, consider the overwhelming support it garnered and immediately move these critical and timely Medicare improvements to the President's desk."

The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act would benefit low-income Medicare recipients by extending and improving assistance programs for those whose income is below $14,040. Pharmacies would benefit by a requirement that would mandate Medicare Advantage plans to pay them within 14 days. It would also prevent pharmacies from having to accept below-cost payments when serving low-income patients by delaying the implementation of a new Medicaid payment rule which changes payment limits for pharmacies to be based on the Average Manufacturer Price (AMP). Privatization.

"The risk of not implementing these modest but necessary Medicare changes is incalculable. Low-income families stand to become further removed from basic medical care, services and drugs. Physicians stand to be forced out of practice. Pharmacies overburdened by financial stress will have to consider closing their doors or laying-off workers; actions that will only further depress regional economic activity. As the number of uninsured Americans climbs to new record highs and the economy continues to struggle, it is incumbent upon my Senate colleagues to fully weigh the consequences of not immediately sending this measure to the President," concluded Pascrell.

The legislation is fully paid for in a balanced manner. It will reduce Medicare Advantage Indirect Medical Education (IME) overpayments and make changes to the private fee for service program that impact network requirements, not payment levels. In addition, these efforts to rein in Medicare Advantage extends Medicare solvency.

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