WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) joined his colleagues to overwhelmingly approve the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. The bill permanently fixes the payment formula for healthcare providers who participate in Medicare and Medicaid, ensuring continued access to care for the most vulnerable people in this country. The legislation also includes Carper provisions that would crack down on waste, fraud and abuse in those critical safety net healthcare programs.
“I’m glad that our most vulnerable citizens – children, the elderly, and the disabled – will have peace of mind that they can get the medical care they need when they need it. Fixing our broken payment system will shift healthcare providers’ focus from the number of services they administer to a patient to the quality of care they give. It will also give these healthcare providers the certainty they need to continue participating in these critical safety net programs. I’m especially heartened that funding has been secured for our community health centers, which are the cornerstone of primary care for some of the most underserved people in this country.
“Among the provisions in this package were common sense reforms to Medicare and Medicaid based on my PRIME and FAST Acts. These measures will help fortify the integrity of these vital programs, and will ultimately save taxpayers a lot of money. By cracking down on vulnerabilities that put tax dollars at risk to waste, fraud and abuse, we can ensure that these programs remain sustainable for years to come and continue to provide quality health care and services to our nation’s poor, disabled, and senior citizens.
“This legislation makes a lot of important progress in ensuring that the most vulnerable Americans can get access to healthcare and that the taxpayer dollars used to pay for these healthcare programs are used appropriately. And while the full cost of the bill is not paid for, some of my provisions to increase tax compliance have been used to offset part of the cost of this legislation. Moving forward I will continue working with my colleagues to find responsible ways to reduce waste, fraud and abuse in our critical safety net programs like Medicare and Medicaid. I’ll also keep fighting to ensure that healthcare providers, like our community health centers, have the resources they need to do their jobs and care for the least of these. But this is a bipartisan victory. We have shown the American people we can do what they’ve sent us here to do – work together and get things done.”
The measures to fight waste, fraud and abuse included in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act come from Sen. Carper’s Preventing and Reducing Improper Medicare and Medicaid Expenditures (PRIME) Act and the Fighting Fraud and Abuse to Save Taxpayer Dollars (FAST) Act. Among other steps, the provisions will ensure that Medicare prescriptions are issued from licensed physicians; strengthen the Senior Medicare Patrol and establish an improved Fraud Reporting Rewards program; curb the practice of “pay and chase” through improved payment accuracy by the contractors that pay claims in the fee-for-service parts of Medicare; and establish the initial steps toward improving Medicare beneficiary identification cards, including eventual removal of social security numbers from the cards in order to prevent identity theft.
The effort to pass these reforms into law has been bipartisan and bicameral. Sen. Carper and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) reintroduced the PRIME Act in March with more than 12 original cosponsors. Congressman John Carney (D-Del.) championed similar legislation in the House and helped lead the effort to have it included in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, which was approved by the House last month by a vote of 392 to 37. The legislation now goes to the President for his approval.