March 21,2015

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Charles Pope: (202) 224-6854

Senate Finance Committee Democrats Offer Unified Statement on SGR and CHIP Negotiations

WASHINGTON – Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee today released a joint statement regarding negotiations in the House to permanently replace Medicare’s broken Sustainable Growth Rate formula. Signing the statement were: Ron Wyden of Oregon, Charles Schumer of New York, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Bill Nelson of Florida, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Tom Carper of Delaware, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Mark Warner of Virginia.

The joint statement:

“As Members of the Senate Finance Committee, with jurisdiction over Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), we strongly support repealing and replacing the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula,” the senators said. 

“Though we have not been part of negotiations in the House on the total package, we want to be clear that any legislation of this magnitude sent to the Senate must be balanced.  Unfortunately, our current understanding of what the House is negotiating does not sufficiently pass that test.      

“Some of us are worried about the level of increased costs to beneficiaries who are already responsible for significant health expenses. Others are concerned about the potential impact on women’s health services. Some are concerned about the extent to which this legislation is not paid for, while others are troubled by the effects of additional provider cuts. Still others would like to see “health extenders” also made permanent. While our concerns vary, we are united by the necessity of extending CHIP funding for four years. We understand that our colleagues in the House are contemplating a short-term funding extension of only two years.

“On February 12, all 46 Senators who caucus as Democrats, cosponsored S. 522, Protecting and Retaining Our Children’s Health Insurance Program Act (PRO-CHIP), endorsing a clean, four-year funding extension of CHIP.  This important program provides comprehensive, affordable health coverage for more than 10 million children.  We want to make sure that children and families know Congress considers them a priority by funding CHIP through 2019 rather than in fits and starts. 

“We appreciate there is no silver bullet, or perfect package, that will please everyone.  And we fully accept that successful legislation requires negotiation, compromise and tough decisions.  This package will be no different. 

“That said, including a four-year funding extension of CHIP in any agreement would go a long way to achieving bipartisan support.  As the deadline for SGR looms and negotiations are finalized, a compromise that we believe can reach the President’s desk is evident:  Permanent repeal of the SGR, a four-year, clean extension of CHIP (as demonstrated by S. 522), health extenders, and an appropriate balance of offsets.  Without it, there is no guarantee.”