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Medicare IVIG Access and Strengthening Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Unknown


Mr. MURPHY of Pennsylvania. I thank the gentleman.

Madam Speaker, may I add my accolades to your work for the people of Missouri, particularly my ancestors who founded Murphy's Settlement, now Farmington, in your district. You've done them well.

Four years ago, Lorraine Babich of Washington County, Pennsylvania, then age 73, suffered injuries so severe from a car accident that she will never fully recover. After the accident, Lorraine underwent a very difficult surgery. She was transferred to a rehabilitation facility, where she contracted Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, otherwise known as MRSA. Sadly, Lorraine's condition has worsened. She now suffers from dementia and must receive 24/7 care at a nursing home. The physical pain in Lorraine's life is multiplied by the emotional pain of recent years. A year after the accident, Lorraine lost her husband; then, last year, her only child passed away.

Lorraine's story is heartbreaking and tragic, and it's depressing to learn Medicare is working against Lorraine's interests. In the fall of 2010, Lorraine's family and the automobile insurer for the other driver in the accident reached a monetary settlement. The insurer agreed to pay Lorraine's medical bills, and Lorraine would also collect damages. First, Lorraine's health insurer--Medicare--had to be repaid, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services won't tell Lorraine or the auto insurer how much is owed to the Medicare trust fund. The insurance company wants to reimburse Medicare and provide Lorraine with a settlement, but CMS's complicated bureaucracy is standing in the way.

There are thousands of cases just like Lorraine's in congressional districts across the country. But we now have a chance to fix this problem and make sure Lorraine and her family receive what they are rightfully owed by passing H.R. 1845, which includes a bipartisan bill I introduced with Congressman Ron Kind.

Our bill, the Strengthening Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers Act, or the SMART Act, will recoup billions of dollars owed by insurance companies to the Medicare trust fund quickly and eliminate waste within CMS. The SMART Act, which has nearly 140 bipartisan cosponsors and the support of trial lawyers, patient advocates, defense attorneys, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, requires that Medicare provide settling parties with accurate information about the total costs of medical bills when the parties announce a settlement is near.

The Congressional Budget Office has looked at our bill and found it will save billions in Medicare. The current Medicare Secondary Payer bureaucracy is causing seniors to have their Social Security checks garnished and their Medicare coverage denied, through no fault of their own. Our bill fixes these issues and ensures bureaucracy does not stand in the way of a settlement.

Right now, insurers are walking away from settlements because of the flaws in the Medicare Secondary Payer statute. When those settlements break down, seniors get nothing and the taxpayers are not repaid. By enacting this legislation, Congress can help Lorraine and thousands of senior citizens who are needlessly suffering because Medicare isn't operating effectively and efficiently.

I want to thank Chairmen Upton and Camp, Ranking Members Waxman and Levin, and Congressman Kind for their support on this legislation. I want to extend a special thanks to their respective staffs for their hard work, particularly Robert Horne and Brad Grantz. Without them, this legislation wouldn't be moving forward.

This is good government and saves taxpayers' money. I urge its adoption.


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