Congressman Jim McDermott - Representing Washington State's 7th Congressional District Mon, 30 May 2016 23:58:35 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb McDermott Opening Statement at Health Subcommittee Hearing on Medicare

(Remarks as prepared)


This is the first Health Subcommittee hearing of the year, and it could have been an opportunity to have a fresh, constructive conversation about Medicare.

Unfortunately, this won’t be the case.

It looks like we should expect more of the same from my Republican colleagues this morning – bad ideas repeated incessantly in the hope that the American people eventually fall for them.

The core proposal that my Republican colleagues have offered – to end Medicare as we know it – will have devastating effects on seniors.

It will shift costs onto beneficiaries, create more losers than winners, and lead to a death spiral in traditional Medicare.

We all know this.

But here we are this morning, preparing to listen to the same tired arguments that this is somehow good policy and that we need to destroy Medicare to save it.

The American people know the truth – Republican proposals fail spectacularly at meeting the needs of seniors.

And by putting forth these terrible ideas over and over again, the majority is showing just how out of step they are with the American people.

Where the American people want a defined benefit that provides peace of mind and health security to beneficiaries, my Republican colleagues have proposed a radical voucher scheme that ends the program as we know it.

Where the American people want a stronger benefit – one with a limit on out-of-pocket costs and access to dental, vision, and hearing coverage – my Republican colleagues have proposed benefit cuts and more costs for beneficiaries.

Where the American people want to preserve coverage for all seniors, my Republican colleagues have proposed to raise the eligibility age.

If we are serious about making sure the Medicare program remains on strong financial footing, we should be looking for ways to reduce greed, waste, and inefficiency in the system – not shifting costs onto beneficiaries and expanding the grip of industry over patients.

Prescription drug costs are out of control, and the pharmaceutical industry is reaping the benefits.

Medicare spends $120 billion on prescription drugs annually, yet we are prohibited from negotiating prices.

It has been 13 years since Congress sold out to the drug companies by creating the Part D program, and in the years since then drug prices have reached crisis levels.

But this Committee has not held a single a hearing on this issue during the current Congress.

We also continue to overpay the insurance industry through the Medicare Advantage program.

Although the ACA reduced these overpayments by $156 billion, we have a lot of work to do to crack down on widespread upcoding and cherry-picking of beneficiaries.

And this Committee still has put no effort into scrutinizing recent insurance industry consolidation, which is unprecedented in scale and threatens to eliminate competition in the Medicare Advantage market.

In addition, we need to change how we pay for care.

Our health system is quickly evolving, and – thanks to the ACA – Medicare is central to this transformation. 

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation has been testing quality measures and payment models that are the future of the delivery system.

And the Administration’s recent initiative to ensure that 50 percent of payments are made through alternative payment models by 2020 is a huge leap forward in this direction.

These are the issues this Committee should be discussing when we can talk about how to make Medicare stronger, more efficient, and more comprehensive.

We’re all getting tired of hearing the same bad ideas.

I hope that in the future this Committee can move forward toward a more productive conversation that results in real improvements to Medicare.

But in the meantime, I look forward to continuing to highlight the disastrous consequences of my Republican colleagues’ plans to cut, dismantle and privatize the program.




Featured Press Releases PR Tue, 22 Mar 2016 14:14:34 +0000
McDermott Announces Release of New GAO Report on Hospital-Physician Consolidation

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman McDermott, a physician and the Ranking Member on the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, has announced the release of a new study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examining how consolidation impacts the Medicare program. This report is the result of a request that Congressman McDermott sent to the GAO in 2013.

In announcing the release of the report, Congressman McDermott said, “The findings of this report underscore the importance of continuously examining how consolidation impacts prices and Medicare spending. Although we must maintain a balanced approach that ensures we do not unduly harm our hospitals, it is important to carefully scrutinize how consolidation is transforming the practice of medicine and how it is impacting the cost of care.”

Key findings of the report:

·         The number of hospitals buying up physician practices almost doubled between 2007 and 2013, and the number of hospitals employing physicians grew 21 percent during that same period.

·         Increasing consolidation has resulted in physician services increasingly moving from physician offices to hospital outpatient departments.

·         This trend is attributable to the fact that hospitals receive higher reimbursement from Medicare for performing the same service as a physician’s office.

·         As a result of this disparity in payment rates and increasing consolidation, Medicare has overpaid for physician services. Policymakers should consider equalizing payment rates between settings.

The study’s recommendations are consistent with actions taken by the Congress in enacting the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which prohibited hospitals from buying up physician practices in order to bill Medicare at a higher rate. This change, which takes effect in 2017, will reduce federal spending by $9.3 billion over the next decade.

The full text of the report is availablehere.



Featured Press Releases PR Fri, 18 Dec 2015 20:13:07 +0000
McDermott Votes Against Omnibus Spending Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) today released the following statement following his vote against the “Omnibus” spending bill:

“The omnibus spending agreement passed today by the House of Representatives contains harmful riders designed to undermine the Affordable Care Act and jeopardize the privacy of the American people.

“As a strong supporter of health reform, I am deeply disturbed by a provision that devastates the Administration's ability to mitigate volatility in the insurance markets through the risk corridor program. The risk corridor program is one of three measures designed to balance risk pools as more Americans become eligible for health coverage. Far from ``insurance industry bailouts,'' these are carefully designed, temporary measures that are critical to making health reform work.

“In a cynical effort to sabotage the insurance markets and undermine the Affordable Care Act, my colleagues inserted a deeply devastating rider that will continue to block the Administration from shifting discretionary funds into the ACA risk corridor program. Without these funds, the program will continue to be badly underfunded, resulting in dramatic instability and potential spikes in premiums around the country. Furthermore, this bill also guts an important revenue-generating measure through a delay in the Affordable Care Act's health insurance premium tax. Under the guise of providing tax relief, Republicans are deliberately eliminating a key source of revenue that is essential to the implementation of the law.

“By deliberately creating a spike in premiums and cutting off critical sources of revenue such as the premium tax, they can then point the finger at the ACA when the law is underfunded and consumers have to pay more for their insurance. This is a calculated and cynical example of legislative sabotage.

“This bill also includes a troubling rider that threatens the privacy of the American people. Slipped into the Omnibus is the Cybersecurity Act of 2015--a so-called compromise bill that gives liability protection to companies in order to incentivize them to share information about cybersecurity threats with the government. However, the legislation undermines American's right to privacy, provides companies with protection from law suits even when they are grossly negligent and includes an overly broad Freedom of Information Act exemption that is unnecessary and promotes potentially harmful secrecy.

“With our citizens spending more and more time online and storing ever increasing amounts of personal data in the cloud, we should not continue to expand the government's reach into our private lives and infringe on their constitutional rights.

“Because of these harmful riders I did not support this bill,” said Congressman Jim McDermott.




Featured Press Releases PR Fri, 18 Dec 2015 17:22:29 +0000
McDermott, Green Introduce Medicare Reforms Legislation

H.R. 4273 includes fixes to Medicare, Medicaid 

WASHINGTON—On Wednesday,Representatives Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Gene Green (D-TX), Ranking Members of the Health Subcommittees of the Way and Means Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee, respectively, introduced legislation to address important health issues that were not included in the House budget agreement. H.R. 4273, the Medicare and Medicaid Improvements and Adjustments Act, includes key provisions that represent uncontroversial reforms to these important health care programs.

The provisions include: 

(1)   Fix to recent changes to payments to cancer hospitals and Hospital Outpatient Department (HOPD) that are currently under construction. 

(2)   Relief from meaningful use (MU) requirements, including a blanket MU hardship exemption and a reprieve of MU requirements in ambulatory surgery centers.

(3)   1-Year Complex Rehabilitative Technology (CRT) exemption from competitive bidding, along with a GAO study requirement.

(4)   Changes to the home infusion drug payment methodology.

(5)   Radiation therapy transitional payment rules.

(6)   Technical fix to special needs and pooled trusts under Medicaid.

(7)   Stronger penalties for illegal distribution of identifications and for violations related to grants, contracts, and other agreements.

(8)   Limitation of federal Medicaid reimbursement for DME to Medicare payment rates.

Green said, “These are common-sense reforms to small gimmicks in the law that have a big impact on patients and health care providers. While the provisions were not included in the larger House package, they remain a top priority and Congress should pass them into law without delay.”  

“During recent negotiations over the Omnibus, we fought for health care provisions that are extremely important to our constituents,” said McDermott. “Unfortunately, the final bill omitted several commonsense measures that will provide important relief to hospitals, providers, and patients. Our bill corrects these shortcomings in a thoughtful, responsible manner.”

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has determined that this legislation will not add to the deficit. A companion bill has been introduced by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).


Featured Press Releases PR Thu, 17 Dec 2015 22:05:05 +0000