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#SubHealth Reviews Bipartisan Bills to Strengthen Medicare

Jul 20, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), today held a hearing examining 11 bipartisan bills that would improve Medicare.

“Each of these policies exemplifies our shared commitment to strengthening the Medicare program for current beneficiaries, and improving it for future generations,” said Chairman Burgess.

Dr. Brett Kissela, Chair, Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Cincinnati Gardner Neuroscience Institute, spoke on behalf of the American Academy of Neurology in support of H.R. 1148, the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine (FAST) Act of 2017. Dr. Kissla stated, “This legislation, if enacted, would allow Medicare beneficiaries with acute stroke to receive the most efficient and effective care, which will save lives and reduce the number of those who survive with costly post-stroke disability.”

#SubHealth’s 11 witnesses beginning to offer testimony.

Ms. Lisa Bardach, Speech-Language Pathologist, ALS of Michigan, spoke in support of H.R. 2465, the Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act of 2017, and highlighted how legislation to address Speech Generating Devices (SGDs) has evolved, sharing stories about patients who have relied on communication devices to share messages ranging from the simplest to the most serious.

Ms. Bardach testified, “The Steve Gleason Act of 2015 removed SGDs from the category of capped rental and reinstated them in the category of frequently purchased equipment. Simply put, it ensured that beneficiaries would have access to their necessary and personalized communication technology, even in the event of residence in nursing home, hospital, or hospice. The Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act of 2017 will remove the sunset date, protecting extremely vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries from ever having to relinquish their only means of communication.”

Ms. Mary Grealy, President, Healthcare Leadership Council, spoke in support of H.R. 849, the Protecting Seniors Access to Medicare Act, bipartisan legislation to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) created under Obamacare. While the board has not been filled, the HHS Secretary still has the authority to carry out cuts to vital services.

Speaking about the bipartisan support for repealing IPAB, Ms. Grealy said, “Nearly 800 organizations representing patients, health care providers, seniors, employers, veterans, Americans with disabilities, and others are asking Congress to do away with the Independent Payment Advisory Board before harm is done to Medicare beneficiaries. …Fortunately, there is bipartisan legislation pending before Congress to do exactly what these hundreds of organizations are requesting.”

In an exchange with Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) about what the effects of IPAB would be, Ms. Grealy answered, “The number one effect will be to reduce access to care for Medicare beneficiaries.”

For more information on todays hearing, including a background memo, witness testimony, and archived webcast, click HERE.