April 14,2015

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Wyden Applauds Senate Passage of Legislation Establishing a New and Permanent Payment Formula for Medicare Providers

Bill Also Extends The Children’s Health Insurance Program for 2 Years

WASHINGTON – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today praised the Senate’s approval of legislation establishing a new and permanent payment system for Medicare physicians and providers and extending the Children’s Health Insurance Program for two additional years.

“This is a significant and hard won achievement that will ensure better quality health care and certainty for millions of seniors and children,” Wyden said after voting with 91 colleagues to approve H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. The final vote was 92-8.

“By its actions today, the Senate – in one fell swoop – abolished Medicare’s broken Sustainable Growth Rate payment formula and replaced it with a better and permanent system for paying physicians and providers,” Wyden said. “And we provided health security to millions of vulnerable children by extending the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

“This is a momentous day and fittingly it comes as we celebrate Medicare’s 50th anniversary this year,” Wyden said. “Along with others, I have worked for many years to put the flawed SGR in the junk bin of history and move to a system that rewards value and more coordinated, high quality care. Today – finally – we have reached that point; we are crossing the victory line and we all are better off.”

Repealing SGR and replacing it with an updated and more durable payment system has been one of Wyden’s legislative priorities. He was one of the architects of a bipartisan, bicameral proposal that served as the foundation for the legislation the Senate approved today. That bill passed the House March 26 by a 392-37 vote. The bill now goes to President Obama for his signature.

Among the bill’s significant provisions:

  • It repeals the SGR and provides stability and 5 years of payment updates for physicians and providers while focusing payments on the quality, value, and accountability of care provider rather than simply the number of procedures.
  • It extends for two years the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that provides comprehensive, affordable health care to 8 million children nationwide and 128,000 in Oregon.
  • It removes the imminent threat of draconian cuts to Medicare providers and ensures a 5-year period of annual updates of 0.5 percent to transition to the new system.
  • It incentivizes care coordination efforts for patients with chronic care needs.
  • It extends the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program which has the potential to sharply reduce child abuse and neglect while offering assistance that improves the lives of both parents and children.
  • It provides a two-year extension of Secure Rural Schools. This program is an economic lifeline to rural communities across Oregon and other states.