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Washington, DC – Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate, took to the Senate floor this afternoon to address a number of his bipartisan health care priorities included in the government funding package.

 

This legislation extends CHIP for an additional four years, ensuring that CHIP is funded through FY2027, providing even more certainty for the families and states that depend on CHIP. 

 

This bill is, as the name implies, the result of some rigorous bipartisan and bicameral negotiations. I am pleased to have played a part in this endeavor, and…that, in addition to keeping the government open and providing much-needed resources for our troops, the bill before us addresses a number of longstanding priorities of the Senate Finance Committee, including many that I personally have been working toward for years now…This legislation, once passed and signed into law, will be a culmination of years of work put in by members of the Finance Committee on both sides of the aisle.

Take a look at some of the highlights:

 10-YEAR CHIP EXTENSION

Hatch created the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) with former Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) more than two decades ago. The program, which fills the gap for families who don’t qualify for programs like Medicaid but still cannot afford private insurance, is successful and financially responsible, and continues to receive bipartisan support.

 Earlier this year, Congress enacted a six-year CHIP extension—the longest in the program’s history—based in large part on a bipartisan agreement Hatch struck with Ranking Member Wyden last year. This legislation extends CHIP for an additional four years, ensuring that CHIP is funded through FY2027, providing even more certainty for the families and states that depend on CHIP. 

 CHRONIC CARE ACT

The Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act of 2017 will improve health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries living with chronic conditions while lowering Medicare costs and streamlining care coordination services in a fiscally sound manner. 

 This critical legislation is the culmination of years of bipartisan collaboration. Following Hatch’s creation of a bipartisan working group, stakeholder feedback and hearings, the CHRONIC Care Act advanced from the Finance Committee last year and was passed unanimously by the Senate in September 2017. 

 Finance Committee Ranking Member Wyden and Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) joined Hatch in introducing the CHRONIC Care Act.

 FAMILY FIRST PREVENTION SERVICES ACT

The Family First Prevention Services Act will help keep more children safely with their families instead of placing them in foster care. It does so by supporting states in providing evidence-based services to prevent children from entering foster care, encouraging states to place children with foster families instead of in group homes, and by reducing bureaucracy for and providing help to relatives so more children can live with family if they must be removed from their home.

 Hatch introduced the Family First Prevention Services Act last congress with Ranking Member Wyden and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-Mich.) and Ways and Means Subcommittee Chairman Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.).

 SOCIAL IMPACT PARTNERSHIP ACT

The Social Impact Partnership Act will support innovative public-private partnerships to address critical social and public health challenges. As a result of this bill, states will identify key social challenges to address and the results they seek to achieve, and the federal government will pay if a rigorous, independent evaluation shows that they achieved the outcome.

 Hatch introduced the Social Impact Partnership with Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) following a Finance Committee hearing on evidence-based funding for social welfare programs. 

 PROTECTING SENIORS’ ACT TO MEDICARE ACT

The Protecting Seniors’ Act to Medicare Act of 2017 repeals the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). IPAB, which was created by the Affordable Care Act, has the potential to make major Medicare decisions, yet is governed by unaccountable bureaucrats. 

 To protect seniors’ healthcare decisions, Finance Committee member Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced the Protecting Seniors' Access to Medicare Act of 2017. Democrats have also supported eliminating IPAB.

 INFANT AND EARLY CHILDHOOD HOME VISITING PROGRAM

This legislation funds the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program through FY2022. This critical program provides states with grants to support evidence-based home visiting programs for at-risk families. 

 Finance Committee Member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced legislation to extend funding for this program. His proposal has also received strong bipartisan support.

 MEDICARE IMPROVEMENTS AND REFORMS

The funding package also includes a number of Hatch-driven improvements and reforms to Medicare to ensure seniors continue to receive quality health care for years to come. These changes include increasing how much high-income beneficiaries pay in Part B and Part D premiums in order to improve Medicare’s financial outlook and targeted Medicare Part B improvements, including expanding access to in-home treatments for patients.

 The legislation also includes a package of bipartisan provisions known as Medicare extenders. These Medicare provisions are: Geographic Practice Cost index; Medicare therapy cap repeal; Medicare ambulance services; increased hospital payment for certain low-volume hospitals; Medicare-dependent hospital (MDH) program; funding for quality measure endorsement; funding outreach and assistance for low-income programs; and funding of home health rural add-ons.

 OTHER HEALTHCARE POLICIES AND PROVISIONS

The package includes continued funding for community health centers, National Health Service Corps., teaching health centers that operate the GME program, and special diabetes programs.

 It also includes home health payment reform; expands access to Medicare intensive cardiac rehabilitation programs; and delays Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) reductions for two years.

 Senator Hatch’s full remarks:

 Mr. President, I rise today to speak in strong support of the Bipartisan Budget Act, which the Senate will hopefully pass later today. This bill, as the name implies, is the result of some rigorous bipartisan and bicameral negotiations.  I am pleased to have played a part in this endeavor, and, I am gratified to note that, in addition to keeping the government open and providing much-needed resources for our troops, the bill before us addresses a number of longstanding priorities of the Senate Finance Committee, including many that I personally have been working toward for years now. 

 Indeed, this legislation, once passed and signed into law, will be the culmination of years of work put in by members of the Finance Committee on both sides of the aisle. 

 I want to take some time to say a few words about some of the bipartisan victories that will be achieved through this legislation. I should warn you, though, Mr. President, this will take a few minutes, because there are quite a few provisions to discuss.  

 For starters, let’s talk about health care.

 Among the more prominent victories in this bill is an extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program for an additional four years.  As we all know, last month Congress passed a historic six-year CHIP extension, which was eventually signed into law.  The bill before us would add another four years on top of that, providing a total extension of ten years.

 Ten. Years. That’s just remarkable.  

 I have a long history with CHIP program, Mr. President.  I was the original author of the program and have always been an outspoken champion of it.  We’ve had some back and forth here in the Senate about CHIP in recent months and some of it has gotten pretty fierce.  

 However, today, the Senate will pass legislation – bipartisan legislation – to provide unprecedented security and certainty for the families that depend on CHIP and the state governments that need more predictability to map out their own expenditures. In addition to the CHIP extension, the budget bill includes a bipartisan Finance Committee bill, entitled the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic Care Act of 2017.  

 Senator Wyden – the Finance Committee’s Ranking Member – and I have been working for years on this legislation, which, once enacted, will improve health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries living with chronic conditions.  It will also help bring down Medicare costs and streamline care coordination services. 

 We’ve been working with our colleagues, stakeholders, and advocates for quite some time.  We moved the bill through the committee last year and the Senate actually passed it once already, without a single vote in opposition.  This legislation will finally get the CHRONIC Care Act to the President’s desk.

 I want to thank Senator Wyden for the time and effort he’s put into this effort.  I also want to thank our other colleagues on the Finance Committee, particularly Senators Isakson and Warner, who joined us on a working group to develop this important legislation and move it forward.  This bill, as promised, will relieve a great deal of suffering for Medicare beneficiaries and will do so in a fiscally responsible manner. 

 The budget bill also contains a package of bipartisan provisions that have come to be known as Medicare and health extenders. These provisions are a high priorities for a number of our members throughout the Senate, and I am very pleased that we were able to include them in the final package of the spending bill. While these are all important, I’d like to highlight that there are a few provisions that we were able to permanently resolve and not just extend.  

 One such provision will repeal a flawed limit on the amount that Medicare would pay for outpatient physical and other therapy that threatened access for some of the most vulnerable patients. I worked with the other members in both chambers to find a lasting solution to this decades-old problem, again demonstrating that Congress can tackle hard problems and not just kick the can down the road.    

 In addition to the Medicare extenders, the bipartisan funding bill also includes some key reforms to the underlying Medicare programs.  These include expanding access to in-home treatments for patients with Medicare Part B and improved means-testing for the premiums paid by high income earners under Medicare Parts B and D, all of which will help improve the overall fiscal outlook for Medicare. 

 Furthermore, the bill repeals the Independent Payment Advisory Board that was created under the so-called Affordable Care Act.  This too is a step that has garnered bipartisan support, showing that many Democrats have joined Republicans in recognizing just how ill-advised the creation of this panel really was. 

 The bill addresses a number of other health care priorities as well, including continued funding for various public health programs, some delays for burdensome Medicaid reductions that have been on the horizon, and it provides relief to Puerto Rico’s healthcare challenges faced after the hurricane devastation by increasing Medicaid funding.

 I’d also like to say, Mr. President, in any big package, there are a lot of policies in here that give me concern. Some of the offsets, particularly related to Medicare Part D that my Democratic colleagues insisted being in this package, are very troubling to me. And I look forward to working with my colleagues to address this moving forward.

 In addition to these healthcare priorities, the funding bill extends a number of important tax provisions in order to help families, individuals, and small businesses throughout the country. 

 We made progress on producing and passing tax extenders legislation with the passage of the PATH Act in 2015.  Still, many very important items remain to be handled, and we have worked to address member priorities to extend certain provisions. The provisions included in the spending bill all expired at the end of 2016.  This legislation will extend them through this year. 

 Finally, the bill takes some major steps forward in the area of human services, which is also under the jurisdiction of the Finance Committee. 

 In addition to continuing funding for important child and family services programs, the bill includes the Family First Prevention Services Act, another bill originally introduced by Senator Wyden and myself to strengthen families and reduce inappropriate foster care placements. This legislation will help keep more children safely with their families instead of placing them in foster care. Under this bill, states will be able to fund effective services that have been shown to prevent children from entering foster care. It will also encourage states to place children with foster families instead of in group homes, and it will reduce the bureaucracy faced by relatives who seek to take in children rather than have them end up in foster care.  

 Also included in the spending bill is the Social Impact Partnership Act, a bill that I introduced along with Senator Bennet, which will support innovative public-private partnerships to address critical social and public health challenges. As a result of this bill, states will identify key social challenges they want to address, state the results they hope to achieve, and the federal government will pay for a rigorous, independent evaluation to verify that they achieved the outcome.

 Mr. President, as you can see, we’ve been very busy in the Finance Committee for the past few years.  Obviously, we have seen success in some of the more high profile items, like tax reform late last year, as well as long-term highway funding and renewing Trade Promotion Authority in 2015, but our work has gone far beyond those efforts. 

 And, thankfully, with passage of this spending bill, many more of the committee’s efforts – virtually all of them bipartisan – will come to fruition. I want to thank the Senate leaders from both parties who have worked with us to include all of these important provisions.  I want to thank my colleagues on the committee – both Republicans and Democrats – who have put in so much time over the years on all of these efforts, and congratulate them all for the success we look forward to seeing this week.

Of course, Mr. President, we do still have to pass the bill.  Therefore, I urge all of my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to vote in favor of this bipartisan legislation.