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BPC Commends U.S. House of Representatives for Bipartisan Negotiations on Medicare and Health Insurance Coverage for Lower-Income Children

Monday, March 16, 2015

Washington, D.C. – The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) issued the following statement by Jason Grumet, BPC President; Bill Hoagland, BPC Senior Vice President; and Katherine Hayes, J.D., BPC’s Director of Health Policy, regarding the U.S. House of Representatives’ bipartisan negotiations on Medicare and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program:

“We commend the Leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives for working across the aisle and with House committees to permanently replace Medicare’s sustainable growth rate (SGR) physician payment system, extend funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and implement structural reforms in Medicare to improve care delivery and slow rising costs. In an era marked by divisive partisanship and unwillingness to compromise, BPC is encouraged at this extraordinary sign of bipartisan cooperation and urges leaders from both parties and in both Houses of Congress to resolve these important issues in a timely fashion.

“BPC has advocated for bipartisan collaboration to offset spending associated with Medicare and CHIP legislation in a thoughtful manner, without resorting to budget gimmicks, and we stand by that principle. As congressional leaders undertake this difficult task, we also recognize that a meaningful response to our nation’s long-term debt requires a Congress capable of negotiation, collaboration and compromise. The talks underway among House leaders represent an important step in this direction.

“While final details of the compromise have yet to be released, the key elements for meaningful health care delivery system reform, CHIP funding extension, and structural reforms in Medicare are under consideration. They align with major entitlement reform proposals offered by organizations such as BPC and create a pathway for broader reforms in the future. We have supported the bipartisan SGR legislation and recognize the importance of a system that rewards quality of care over quantity. While we support a broader approach to delivery system reform that encourages all providers to move toward organized systems of care, passing the SGR legislation is an important first step. Toward that end, BPC supports a balanced approach to offsetting the SGR legislation that is not solely limited to increased out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries. BPC supports increasing part B premiums for higher-income Medicare beneficiaries, as well as limiting first-dollar coverage in Medigap, not in isolation, but in the context of broader delivery system reform. BPC also supports a clean CHIP funding extension for a minimum of two years, recognizing that as many as four years may be needed to address gaps in coverage and cost-sharing for children.

“We urge Congress to carefully consider this proposal. This is a unique moment in time. We have the opportunity to accomplish three critical tasks: repeal the Medicare SGR, pave the way for broader reforms, and provide near-term certainty to states and low-income families who rely upon CHIP. We encourage Congress to seize the moment and take this important step forward toward meaningful system-wide reform.”

KEYWORDS: BILL HOAGLAND, CHILDREN'S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM, JASON GRUMET, KATHERINE HAYES, SUSTAINABLE GROWTH RATE