April 10,2014

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Wyden Touts Health System Improvements Since ACA

Chairman Highlights Transparency in Medicare, Other Initiatives to Give Seniors Better Care

WASHINGTON –During today’s hearing examining the administration’s fiscal year 2015 health care budget proposal, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said America’s health care system has made significant improvements and helped millions of Americans since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law, and he also highlighted a number of initiatives to improve Medicare and give seniors better care.

“Like the Medicare drug benefit, millions of Americans now have the economic security of health insurance they didn’t have just a few years ago,” Wyden said. “Regardless of politics or feelings about this law, that’s something that’s good for the economy, and for the country.”

The hearing included testimony from Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. During the hearing, Wyden applauded the administration’s recent release of Medicare claims data, congratulating them on heading toward the goal of making available all claims data from doctors and other providers. Full transparency would help improve the quality of Medicare, fight fraud, control costs and even help people in the broader health care market find doctors in their area.

Wyden also noted improvements to hospice care in Medicare that he fought to include in the ACA. With the change, patients no longer have to make a false choice between hospice and curative care to maintain access to Medicare coverage.

Wyden also highlighted two initiatives still moving through Congress. First, he called for Sebelius’ commitment to help finish permanently repealing and replacing the broken Medicare physician payment formula this year. The package would move Medicare away from volume-driven care towards a system that rewards quality and value. Wyden also promoted legislation with Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., to improve care for seniors with multiple chronic conditions, which is the fastest growing portion of the Medicare population.

Watch Wyden’s remarks here. The full text of the statement is available here.