Pallone Lauds Historic House Passage of Permanent SGR Fix, Amplifies Call on Senate to Step Up

Apr 8, 2015 Issues: Health Care, New Jersey

Bill Secures Funding for Programs Vital to New Jersey

NEW, BRUNSWICK, NJ – While touring the Eric B. Chandler Health Center in New Brunswick today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, called on the Senate to pass a bill to permanently replace the broken Medicare doctor payment system, the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, following historic passage by the House of Representatives last month.  Congressman Pallone is a co-author of the bill, H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), and helped usher it through the House.
 
“After more than a decade of short-term fixes, House passage of a permanent fix to the broken SGR was an historic achievement,” said Congressman Pallone.  “The onus is now on the Senate to pass the long-overdue solution.  If the Senate steps up, we will never again be faced with the uncertainty of insufficient stopgap repairs to the flawed Medicare doctor payment system.” 
 
MACRA would repeal the SGR and replace it with a system that rewards value, ensures the accuracy of payments, and improves the quality of care for seniors.  The replacement, H.R. 1470, a bicameral, bipartisan agreement, was also co-authored by Congressman Pallone.
 
In addition, H.R. 2 secures and extends funding for programs that will help improve the health and welfare of New Jersey children, families and seniors.  It provides nearly $8 billion in funding for Community Health Centers, the National Health Service Corps, and Teaching Health Centers over the next two years.  This funding will help serve 28 million patients and strengthen access to primary and preventive health care in communities across the country.  In New Jersey, over 475,000 individuals are served through federally qualified Community Health Centers.  Throughout the state, nearly 100 locations are designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas – consisting of the most vulnerable and underserved populations – and are eligible to be served by National Health Service Corps.  The funding for the Teaching Health Centers would continue to help train medical and dental residents in the state.

The bill also fully funds the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through September 30, 2017, continuing access to health care coverage for over 8 million children and pregnant women in low-income households across the country.  Of the recipients nationwide, over 200,000 are New Jersey residents, top 10 among all states. 

Among a number of other Medicare provisions, MACRA would permanently extend the Transitional Medical Assistance (TMA) program, which provides up to one year of additional Medicaid coverage to low-income families as they transition from welfare to work.  Without the program, over 35,000 low-income New Jersey families would lose Medicaid coverage.  It also permanently extends the Qualifying Individual (QI) program, which helps to pay Medicare Part B premium costs for low-income seniors.  In New Jersey, roughly 40,000 people are able to get this financial assistance through the program.

Congressman Pallone was joined on the Chandler Health Center tour by Sandra Adams, Executive Director and CEO of the Eric B. Chandler Health Center; Eric Jahn, MD, Senior Associate Dean for Community Health at the Eric B. Chandler Health Center; Sean Hopkins, Senior Vice President, Federal Relations and Health Economics at the NJ Hospital Association; Mishael Azam of the Medical Society of NJ; and clinicians and medical residents.