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Crapo Defends Market-Based Healthcare Approach

Votes to sustain Medicare Advantage program, keep access & choice for seniors

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo this evening voted to sustain the President's veto of healthcare legislation that took steps backward regarding market-oriented healthcare reform. H.R. 6331, the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act, was vetoed by the President earlier on Tuesday. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate voted to override the President's veto; Crapo voted to sustain it, saying that the legislation "compromised the positive gains we've made in instituting market-oriented reforms to Medicare over the past four years."

Crapo, who serves on the Senate Finance Committee which has jurisdiction over this issue, said, "Millions rely on Medicare to access our healthcare system. They should have access to superb care and cutting-edge treatments. I have consistently advocated for timely and adequate physician compensation. Systemic reform is also crucial. The Medicare system needs the strengths inherent in the market; namely, healthy competition that provides choice, flexibility and affordability. The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 took this country in the right direction in terms of updating Medicare, introducing market forces into the system that have benefited millions of seniors; H.R. 6331 takes us backward and in the wrong direction.

"Reimbursing doctors so that they can continue to serve these patients is critical. It is important to recognize that the vote on H.R. 6331, the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act, was not about physician compensation. It was about whether or not this country will reject market-oriented reforms and move, instead, to a purely government-run healthcare system. I do not support the move toward socialized medicine that this bill represents, but I fully support a fix to physician compensation and a market-oriented approach to the Medicare system.

"There are those who want to move this country backward, toward failed policies of socialized medicine that reduce choice, incentives for good service and access while increasing systemic and individual costs. H.R.6331 contains controversial offsets that erode provisions in place today that make Medicare more responsive to recipients. The bill was not a fight over physician compensation-doctors still would have received their unreduced Medicare compensation; there was virtually universal support for that fix and it will be made under every proposal on the table. But, linking the fix for physician compensation to removing market-oriented reforms in Medicare made for political manipulation in the extreme.

"Those who want to reverse our successes in moving toward a more market-oriented Medicare system will try to turn my nay vote, and that of many of my colleagues, into an appalling misportrayal of our priorities. My priorities are and always have been patients, physicians and our entire health care system. I'm proud to champion adequate and timely Medicare reimbursement for physicians. I've been a leader in the Finance Committee in fighting for physician compensation for years. My voting record is a testament to my consistent efforts.

"I regret that this legislation in this form passed the U.S. Senate. What I regret even more is that the physicians who treat Medicare patients were the unfortunate hostages in this ongoing crisis."