202-224-4515, Julia Lawless and Katie Niederee
Hatch Touts Finance Committee Wins in Funding Package
Utah Senator Says, “Thankfully, with passage of this spending bill, many more of the committee’s efforts - virtually all of them bipartisan - will come to fruition.”
WASHINGTON – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today on the Senate floor urged his colleagues to support the Bipartisan Budget Act. In addition to keeping the government open and providing much-needed resources for the nation’s troops, the package includes numerous longstanding Finance Committee priorities.
“This bill is, as the name implies, the result of some rigorous bipartisan and bicameral negotiations,” Hatch said on the Senate Floor. “I am pleased to have played a part in this endeavor, and…that, in addition to keeping the government open and providing much-needed resources for our troops, the bill before us addresses a number of longstanding priorities of the Senate Finance Committee, including many that I personally have been working toward for years now…This legislation, once passed and signed into law, will be a culmination of years of work put in by members of the Finance Committee on both sides of the aisle.”
Hatch’s remarks can be found below:
Mr. President, I rise today to speak in strong support of the Bipartisan Budget Act, which the Senate will hopefully pass later today. This bill, as the name implies, is the result of some rigorous bipartisan and bicameral negotiations. I am pleased to have played a part in this endeavor, and, I am gratified to note that, in addition to keeping the government open and providing much-needed resources for our troops, the bill before us addresses a number of longstanding priorities of the Senate Finance Committee, including many that I personally have been working toward for years now.
Indeed, this legislation, once passed and signed into law, will be the culmination of years of work put in by members of the Finance Committee on both sides of the aisle.
I want to take some time to say a few words about some of the bipartisan victories that will be achieved through this legislation. I should warn you, though, Mr. President, this will take a few minutes, because there are quite a few provisions to discuss.
For starters, let’s talk about health care.
Among the more prominent victories in this bill is an extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program for an additional four years. As we all know, last month Congress passed a historic six-year CHIP extension, which was eventually signed into law. The bill before us would add another four years on top of that, providing a total extension of ten years.
Ten. Years. That’s just remarkable.
I have a long history with CHIP program, Mr. President. I was the original author of the program and have always been an outspoken champion of it. We’ve had some back and forth here in the Senate about CHIP in recent months and some of it has gotten pretty fierce.
However, today, the Senate will pass legislation – bipartisan legislation – to provide unprecedented security and certainty for the families that depend on CHIP and the state governments that need more predictability to map out their own expenditures. In addition to the CHIP extension, the budget bill includes a bipartisan Finance Committee bill, entitled the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic Care Act of 2017.
Senator Wyden – the Finance Committee’s Ranking Member – and I have been working for years on this legislation, which, once enacted, will improve health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries living with chronic conditions. It will also help bring down Medicare costs and streamline care coordination services.
We’ve been working with our colleagues, stakeholders, and advocates for quite some time. We moved the bill through the committee last year and the Senate actually passed it once already, without a single vote in opposition. This legislation will finally get the CHRONIC Care Act to the President’s desk.
I want to thank Senator Wyden for the time and effort he’s put into this effort. I also want to thank our other colleagues on the Finance Committee, particularly Senators Isakson and Warner, who joined us on a working group to develop this important legislation and move it forward. This bill, as promised, will relieve a great deal of suffering for Medicare beneficiaries and will do so in a fiscally responsible manner.
The budget bill also contains a package of bipartisan provisions that have come to be known as Medicare and health extenders. These provisions are a high priorities for a number of our members throughout the Senate, and I am very pleased that we were able to include them in the final package of the spending bill. While these are all important, I’d like to highlight that there are a few provisions that we were able to permanently resolve and not just extend.
One such provision will repeal a flawed limit on the amount that Medicare would pay for outpatient physical and other therapy that threatened access for some of the most vulnerable patients. I worked with the other members in both chambers to find a lasting solution to this decades-old problem, again demonstrating that Congress can tackle hard problems and not just kick the can down the road.
In addition to the Medicare extenders, the bipartisan funding bill also includes some key reforms to the underlying Medicare programs. These include expanding access to in-home treatments for patients with Medicare Part B and improved means-testing for the premiums paid by high-income earners under Medicare Parts B and D, all of which will help improve the overall fiscal outlook for Medicare.
Furthermore, the bill repeals the Independent Payment Advisory Board that was created under the so-called Affordable Care Act. This too is a step that has garnered bipartisan support, showing that many Democrats have joined Republicans in recognizing just how ill-advised the creation of this panel really was.
The bill addresses a number of other healthcare priorities as well, including continued funding for various public health programs, some delays for burdensome Medicaid reductions that have been on the horizon, and it provides relief to Puerto Rico’s healthcare challenges faced after the hurricane devastation by increasing Medicaid funding.
I’d also like to say, Mr. President, in any big package, there are a lot of policies in here that give me concern. Some of the offsets, particularly related to Medicare Part D that my Democratic colleagues insisted being in this package, are very troubling to me. And I look forward to working with my colleagues to address this moving forward.
In addition to these healthcare priorities, the funding bill extends a number of important tax provisions in order to help families, individuals, and small businesses throughout the country.
We made progress on producing and passing tax extenders legislation with the passage of the PATH Act in 2015. Still, many very important items remain to be handled, and we have worked to address member priorities to extend certain provisions. The provisions included in the spending bill all expired at the end of 2016. This legislation will extend them through last year.
Finally, the bill takes some major steps forward in the area of human services, which is also under the jurisdiction of the Finance Committee.
In addition to continuing funding for important child and family services programs, the bill includes the Family First Prevention Services Act, another bill originally introduced by Senator Wyden and myself to strengthen families and reduce inappropriate foster care placements. This legislation will help keep more children safely with their families instead of placing them in foster care. Under this bill, states will be able to fund effective services that have been shown to prevent children from entering foster care. It will also encourage states to place children with foster families instead of in group homes, and it will reduce the bureaucracy faced by relatives who seek to take in children rather than have them end up in foster care.
Also included in the spending bill is the Social Impact Partnership Act, a bill that I introduced along with Senator Bennet, which will support innovative public-private partnerships to address critical social and public health challenges. As a result of this bill, states will identify key social challenges they want to address, state the results they hope to achieve, and the federal government will pay for a rigorous, independent evaluation to verify that they achieved the outcome.
Mr. President, as you can see, we’ve been very busy in the Finance Committee for the past few years. Obviously, we have seen success in some of the more high profile items, like tax reform late last year, as well as long-term highway funding and renewing Trade Promotion Authority in 2015, but our work has gone far beyond those efforts.
And, thankfully, with passage of this spending bill, many more of the committee’s efforts – virtually all of them bipartisan – will come to fruition. I want to thank the Senate leaders from both parties who have worked with us to include all of these important provisions. I want to thank my colleagues on the committee – both Republicans and Democrats – who have put in so much time over the years on all of these efforts, and congratulate them all for the success we look forward to seeing this week.
Of course, Mr. President, we do still have to pass the bill. Therefore, I urge all of my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to vote in favor of this bipartisan legislation.
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