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House Passes Bipartisan Bill Resolving Longstanding Medicare Physician Payment Dispute

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This afternoon, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation that resolves a long standing dispute over the reimbursement of physicians participating in the Medicare program. The inability of Congress to resolve the dispute in recent years has led to unacceptable delays in physician reimbursement and uncertainty for doctors and seniors in the operation of medical practices. The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 2) passed the House by a vote of 392 to 37.

Representative Peter Welch voted for the legislation which included two Welch-authored rural health care provisions of critical importance to Vermont.

"This bipartisan bill is good for children, families and seniors," said Welch. "It ends uncertainty in the Medicare program for doctors and seniors, boosts assistance to rural health care providers in Vermont, and extends health insurance for children. And, importantly, it represents a significant departure from the recent pattern of Congressional dysfunction that has led to Band-Aid approaches to the many challenges facing our country. The default solution has been to kick the can down the road. The House has performed in this instance the way the American people are demanding, and in a manner very familiar to Vermonters: working together to find common ground on difficult issues."

The first Welch-authored provision extends for two years the Medicare Dependent and Low Volume Hospital program which boosts reimbursements to rural hospitals as well as hospitals serving disproportionately large numbers of seniors. Three Vermont hospitals will receive increased reimbursements under this provision: Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, Northwestern Medical Center, and Central Vermont Medical Center.

The second Welch-authored provision extends for two years the federal program that boosts payments to ambulance service providers in rural areas whose services are a lifeline for patients, particularly seniors, where a hospital emergency room is often many miles away. This program ensures that it is financially feasible for ambulance providers to continue to serve rural areas.

In addition, the bill reauthorizes the federal Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two years and provides $8 billion in funding for community health centers, the National Health Service Corps, and Teaching Health Centers.

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