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Hirono votes for health care bill

From the office of Rep. Mazie Hirono:


I voted for H.R. 4994, the Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act, which ensures Hawaii’s seniors and military families will be able to continue to see their doctors.

This bipartisan legislation blocks for one year the 25 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors scheduled to begin Jan. 1, 2011. The Senate passed this bill earlier this month. Passage of the bill now sends it to the President’s desk for his signature.

The bill also protects military families because payment rates for doctors in TRICARE — the health care program for active-duty service members, National Guard and Reserve members, military retirees, and their families — are tied to Medicare rates.

I know that the uncertainty of potential cuts to Medicare reimbursement rates have troubled many in Hawaii. Throughout my district, I’ve heard from seniors who were worried that their doctors would stop seeing them. I’ve also heard from doctors who were not only were concerned about continuing to care for their patients but were worried about not being able to financially support their own families.

This year alone, Congress has had to pass five laws to prevent these cuts. While I would have preferred that the Senate take-up the permanent fix to the flawed Medicare payment formula that I voted for and the House passed in November 2009, H.R. 4994 provides needed stability for Hawaii health care providers and the patients they serve.

H.R. 4994 is also fully paid for, which is critical in restoring fiscal responsibility and reducing our nation’s deficit. The bill is paid for by modifying the formula for health care exchange tax credits provided through the new health care reform law. According to the Congressional Budget Office, H.R. 4994 would reduce the deficit by $2.8 billion over the next 10 years.

This legislation is also supported by several national organizations, including the AARP and the American Medical Association.


Mazie K. Hirono
Member of Congress
2nd District of Hawaii

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