Statements and Speeches

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, participated in the Senate Finance Committee markup hearing of the Medicare physician payment legislation, including the repeal and replace of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR).

A copy of Sen. Carper's opening statement, as prepared for delivery, follows:

I would like to thank Chairman Baucus, Ranking Member Hatch, and their staffs for the enormous work they have all done to get our committee to this markup of a permanent bill to repeal and replace the SGR. I think almost all of us on this committee have long argued for the need to move away from fee-for-service payments towards performance-based payments in Medicare as quickly as possible.

This bill does just that by encouraging our country’s health care providers to participate in Accountable Care Organizations, patient-centered medical homes and other innovative payment and delivery models. Instead of paying physicians and other health care providers for the number of services they provide, this bill encourages our country’s health care providers to improve health outcomes and drive down costs by keeping patients as healthy as possible. We cannot afford to continue to kick the can down the road on the issue of physician payment.

I also want to thank the Chairman and his staff for including some of my amendments in the revised mark, including important legislation to curb waste and fraud in Medicare and Medicaid.  The Committee has accepted most of the provisions of the bipartisan “Preventing and Reducing Improper Medicare and Medicaid Expenditures Act” or PRIME Act. This amendment is based on legislation coauthored by Dr. Coburn, and cosponsored by 25 of our colleagues including Senators Bennet, Enzi, Isakson, Nelson and Thune.  I look forward to continuing work with the Committee on measures to save taxpayer dollars through stronger program integrity efforts.

I have some other waste and fraud ideas that I may raise during the this morning’s discussions, including an amendment with Senator Toomey and Brown to address the fraudulent diversion of controlled substances – drugs such as painkillers - from Medicare’s prescription drug program.

Lastly, I want to take a second to note the importance of the Commission on Patient Directed Healthcare to help us advance our national conversation on how to ensure that each individual’s care preferences are fully respected in the course of their healthcare treatment. I believe this Commission will provide a tremendous service to our country by giving Americans the opportunity to have an honest discussion about our individual health care choices and expectations, and how to ensure these choices are respected at every stage of our lives.

These conversations can be incredibly difficult and even heartbreaking, but the repercussions of avoiding these discussions are far worse. Chairman Baucus and Ranking Member Hatch, I want to thank you for including the Commission on Patient Directed Healthcare in this bill and commend you for your leadership on these issues.