Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today supported H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. It passed the House with strong support from both Republicans and Democrats by 392-37.
The bill strengthens Medicare and ensures senior’s access to care by repealing the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) and replacing it with an updated system that will work better, and save money over the long term. The SGR is a formula that determines payment amounts to doctors who treat Medicare patients.
“Repealing the SGR has been the top priority for almost every Idaho medical professional who I have met with for years. Before today’s vote, Congress had simply kicked the can down the road a total of 17 times, at great cost to taxpayers and over the strong objections of the health community,” said Simpson. “Though the full cost of the bill is not covered in the first ten years, it is important to look at the big picture when you are reforming major programs like Medicare. The right-leaning American Action Forum completed an exhaustive study that found the bill results in $295 billion of spending reductions by 2035.”
Also included in this package is a two-year extension of The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS) which provides an alternative source of education funding for counties with a high percentage of national forests and fulfills the federal government’s responsibility to counties with tax-exempt federal lands.
“My western colleagues and I have been working tirelessly to ensure Congress address the immediate needs of Secure Rural Schools payments and I was thrilled that H.R. 2 offered the solution,” said Simpson. “By voting yes today, western members were able to lend their support to one of the most important programs to our rural communities. We must now turn our attention to enacting a long-term and sustainable solution that doesn’t stick Idaho’s rural counties with the annual uncertainty of an up or down vote from Congress.”
“Though H.R. 2 is not perfect, you would have to look long and hard to find a reason to vote no,” added Simpson. “This kind of bill represents exactly what the American people want to see out of their elected representatives. They want us to fix problems, not shout across the aisle and point fingers.”
Congressman Simpson has long been an advocate for SRS and signed a letter last October urging House leadership to secure full funding for Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and SRS.
H.R. 2 now heads to the U.S. Senate for consideration.