Statements and Speeches

WASHINGTON – Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) released the following statement regarding today's Senate Finance Committee hearing, "Strengthening Medicare and Medicaid: Taking Steps to Modernize America's Health Care System:"


"I welcome today's hearing on the implementation of our comprehensive health reform law, the Affordable Care Act, and specifically on the new law's efforts to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare and Medicaid are critical programs that are charged with caring for the most vulnerable Americans – seniors, the disabled, and the poor.  They have a critical mission and we as policy makers must do our part to ensure that these programs provide the best care possible while also protecting taxpayer dollars and ensuring that they are being spent wisely and efficiently. 


"Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law this spring, I have traveled up and down the First State talking to my constituents about our new health care reform law.  From Dover, to Wilmington, to Rehoboth, I often heard the same questions and concerns, particularly from seniors who fear that the new law will somehow reduce their Medicare benefits.  Unfortunately there's been a lot of misinformation out there about what our health care reform law does and doesn't do. 


Many Delawareans, and I suspect most Americans, are unaware of the benefits of the law that have already gone into effect.  For example, 6,492 Medicare beneficiaries in Delaware have already received a one-time, tax free $250 rebate to help pay for prescriptions in the "donut hole" coverage gap.  Beginning in January 2011, seniors who are in the doughnut hole will get a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs and a 7 percent discount on generic drugs. Additionally, Delaware's 140,000 Medicare beneficiaries will receive preventive services, such as screenings for cancer and heart disease, and an annual wellness visit with cognitive screenings without having to pay copayments, coinsurance, or deductibles.


"As part of this hearing, my colleagues and I will have an opportunity to hear from Dr. Donald Berwick, Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  Dr. Berwick will be able to share with the Committee members and the American public important information on how the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid are progressing with their efforts to implement the Affordable Care Act.  I am particularly interested in hearing from Dr. Berwick about the new tools the law provides to better protect tax payer dollars by curbing waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid.  For example, the use of Recovery Audit Contractors in a Medicare pilot project saved over $1 billion taxpayer dollars between 2006 and 2009.  I am eager to hear how the expansion of Recovery Audit Contractors to Medicaid and the rest of Medicare will be implemented. 


"The Affordable Care Act is a significant step forward in our effort to improve health care for all Americans, but there is no such thing as a perfect law.  While our comprehensive health reform law is not written in stone, this hearing and those that follow offer us an important opportunity to work with the Administration to strengthen the law and by extension, further improve our health care system.  As I like to say, if it isn't perfect, make it better."