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Bonamici Criticizes Latest Effort to Politicize Access to Care for Seniors

March 14, 2014
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici criticized the bill that the House of Representatives voted on today to address the “doc-fix,” the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula used to reimburse physicians who treat Medicare patients. 

The bill would fix the SGR, but it also includes an amendment that delays a critical part of the Affordable Care Act, a law that is already protecting insurers from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions and providing other critical consumer protections.

The House passed the “SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act” by a vote of 238 to 181.

“We need to fix the SGR, but amending what was originally bipartisan legislation to make a political statement about the Affordable Care Act is bad policy,” Congresswoman Bonamici said. “Instead of ensuring that seniors have complete access to their doctors, the House has now passed a bill that will not be taken up by the Senate or signed by the President.”

Congress has voted to delay implementation of the SGR formula on an annual basis for more than a decade because of concerns that it would lead to fewer doctors accepting Medicare patients. The House bill taken up today is a permanent fix to the formula, but it delays the ACA's individual shared responsibility provision for five years.

A Congressional Budget Office report estimates that a five year delay would result in an increase of 13 million uninsured Americans and cause premiums to rise by 10 to 20 percent. President Obama has said he would veto the legislation if it comes to his desk.

"Instead of passing legislation that supports our seniors, the House passed a bill that threatens their access to health care and threatens the access of 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions," Bonamici said.

The American Medical Association, which represents more than 600 physician groups, also criticized the bill because of its delay of the individual shared responsibility provision. The AMA instead called for a permanent fix to the SGR formula that would have strong bipartisan support.

“I encourage my colleagues to pass a bipartisan permanent fix to the SGR so Medicare patients don’t have to worry about their coverage,” Bonamici added.