The leading Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-TX) delivered the following opening statement at a Full Committee Hearing on Caring for Aging Americans.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Chairman.
“Republicans have a long history of supporting America’s seniors, working across the aisle to make meaningful strides to improve the health and social services they rely on.
“With 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day, Republicans have been leaders in helping America’s aging population.
“In 2003, under the leadership of President Bush and a Republican Congress, I was proud to help create for the first time an affordable, life-saving prescription drug plan for seniors.
“Though nearly all Democrats voted against the creation of Part D, today 43 million Americans are enrolled in this life-saving program, which came in 50 percent under budget and still delivers affordable premiums.
“Additionally, serving as Chairman of the Health Subcommittee, I was proud to champion the bipartisan IMPACT Act.
“We know that how Medicare takes care of patients after they leave the hospital is equally as important as the care they receive while hospitalized.
“But the status quo often isn’t working for aging Medicare beneficiaries getting care in post-acute care settings.
“The IMPACT Act enables Medicare to collect data to achieve three goals: to compare quality among various post-acute care settings; to improve the way hospitals and these providers plan for patient discharge; and to use this new information to make improvements to how Medicare pays these facilities while ensuring patients are receiving the best—and correct—setting for care.
“Over five years later, this law is working.
“CMS is collecting data, and the non-partisan Medicare Payment Advisory Commission is way ahead of the curve, taking steps to determine how Congress can create a transition to a unified post-acute payment system focused on quality and accountability.
“Though there is still more to do, this work means America’s seniors – and Medicare – are in a better place today.
“Also, serving as Committee Chairman, I was proud to join our Social Security Subcommittee leaders Sam Johnson and John Larson to pass the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act.
“Social Security appoints a representative payee when a person is unable to manage or direct the management of their Social Security benefits. Representative payees play an important role in how we care for aging Americans.
“However, there were serious concerns about representative payees that Congress needed to address.
“Together, we worked to strengthen oversight of representative payees while also reducing the burden on family members.
“We gave Americans a greater say in selecting their payee if they should need one in the future, and ensuring that this was a person they could trust.
“These were not small actions. We made substantial changes to our entitlement programs to help those receiving Social Security and Medicare benefits.
“And Republicans are eager to continue working to continuing strengthening these important programs for America’s seniors – that requires stopping dangerous ideas from being signed into law.
“Speaker Pelosi’s Fewer Cures for Patients Act would stop new cures and medicines from being developed.
“That partisan legislation, which sadly passed out of this Committee, would tell our seniors who are struggling with ALS and Alzheimer’s—and those who care for them—that hope for a cure is at risk.
“H.R. 3 is the first step in Democrats’ extreme health care agenda. Democrats running for President are promising to implement so-called ‘Medicare For All.’
“The effects this radical health care approach would have on our seniors are truly unfathomable.
“The private plans seniors enjoy? Gone.
“The private plans American workers’—many of them caretakers for seniors—like? Eliminated.
“In their place, long wait lines and not being able to go to the doctor of their choice.
“That’s a life-threatening change, especially for our seniors, many of whom fought for us, our children, and grandchildren so that we too could work toward living the American Dream.
“We owe it to our seniors and those who care for them to continue improving these programs, and we owe it to future generations to ensure our safety net can continue to deliver on its promises.
“Today, we’re going to hear from the panel of expert witnesses about serious problems plaguing the Medicare program today, especially for the sickest patients. Some of these quality issues are so severe that they jeopardize the lives of our seniors.
“We must work together to strengthen these programs for current and future seniors.
“We need to work diligently together to protect our vulnerable seniors today.
“But we also need to empower future seniors by guaranteeing them choice in the health care and retirement they want, not the one that Washington thinks will work best for them.
“And as I close, I want to recognize one of our staffers’, Carla DiBlasio, as she departs for a new adventure in her home state of Ohio.
“Carla’s exemplary work has been critical to advancing real, bipartisan solutions to the problems Americans face every day.
“Her departure is bittersweet.
“We will miss her, and wish her the best of luck.
“Thank you, Chairman.”