WASHINGTON — Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) delivered the following opening statement during the committee markup of a series of health care bills, including the Protecting the Integrity of Medicare Act of 2015 introduced by Health Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Ranking Member Jim McDermott (D-WA).
"So before we get started, I wanted to say a few words. The reason we're here today is to strengthen Medicare . . . to make the program work better. That's something we all can agree on. I'm pleased that we were able to put together a series of bills in a bipartisan way.
"Take our first bill, the Protecting the Integrity of Medicare Act. The idea is pretty simple: Nonpartisan watchdogs, like GAO, have long said that Medicare is a 'high risk program' that is susceptible to fraud. And every dollar lost to fraud is a dollar lost to our seniors. So the way we see it, we have a responsibility to protect seniors and taxpayers alike.
"And we can do that by making some commonsense reforms: Take Social Security numbers off of Medicare cards. Fix common billing mistakes. Make it easier for Medicare to procure innovative contractors to process claims. And make it easier for those contractors to communicate with seniors. These are relatively modest changes. But put them all together, and you have a healthier, stronger Medicare program that works better for seniors, doctors, and taxpayers alike.
"So I'm pretty proud of this bill, and I'm proud of how we put it together. This is how the process should work. Chairman Brady, Mr. McDermott, and many of our members worked together. They shared ideas. We held hearings. There was a discussion draft. We got feedback from stakeholders and members. It was the collaborative process at its best. So I want to congratulate our members on a job well done.
"Now, we're also working on three other bills today. They also will strengthen Medicare. They also have bipartisan support. I've said that I intend for this committee to return to regular order. We're going to consider as many members' bills as we can. And that's just what we're doing today.
"The members of this committee haven't always seen eye-to-eye on health care. And that's OK. We shouldn't shy away from our differences. But when we have a chance to find common ground—to move our country forward—we shouldn't shy away from that either. That's the reason we're here today. And I want to thank all our members and staff for their hard work."
"This is a commonsense commitment to all Americans. Now, I know the devil is in the details, but I hope all my colleagues, on this subcommittee and especially the Ranking Member, can join me.
"Over the coming months, we are going to have plenty more conversations about the disability program. And as we have these conversations it is my hope that they will not be hijacked by political point scoring. The American people expect us to work together.
"Today we are going to hear from our witnesses about the options to make sure benefits continue to be paid. They will discuss how Congress has addressed Social Security's finances in the past and how Social Security’s finances then compare to today.
"Many people have said that we've reallocated the payroll tax 11 times. While it is true Congress has shifted the payroll taxes between the two Social Security trust funds, it has happened only 6 times. Moreover Congress has also typically made changes to improve Social Security.
"Recently, Acting Commissioner Colvin argued for more research into the disability program before making any changes. Well, guess what? That was the same argument in 1994 as well, the last time a reallocation took place.
"Now some like to say that the President's proposal to reallocate some of the payroll tax that goes for the retirement programs towards to the disability program is no big deal.
"Well I would argue it is a big deal. The Administration just wants to kick the can down the road and offers no ideas on how to make the program work better. That’s not right. Americans who have paid into Social Security and are currently receiving benefits as well as today’s younger workers deserve better.
"This Congress should and must act to make sure that Disability Insurance benefits continue to be paid in 2016 and beyond to those who rely on them. And in doing so we should make this program work better for those who depend on it.
"I thank our witnesses for being here today and look forward to hearing your testimony."
“For many American families, finding a way to pay for college is a mounting challenge. 529s are a great way to save for an education, and we should strengthen these important tools, not tax them away. This bill will make it easier for families to use these accounts and give them a greater sense of control over their future. On both policy and principle, this bill gets it right, and I want to thank Congresswoman Jenkins for her work on this issue.”
In introducing the legislation, Chairman Brady said:
"We have all heard stories and read the news regarding fraud, waste, and abuse in the Medicare program. Seniors are either personally harmed or negatively affected by the rising costs in health care due to these all-too-common activities. I am pleased to re-introduce the Protecting the Integrity of Medicare Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation that will reduce fraud, waste, and abuse within Medicare. By increasing education, transparency, and communication between Medicare's payers and the providers that treat our seniors, in addition to commonsense proposals such as removing Social Security numbers from Medicare cards, the members of this subcommittee are tackling these issues head on. Our seniors deserve better, and I am proud to re-introduce this bill with my friend and colleague on the Ways and Means Committee, Dr. McDermott."
In introducing the legislation, Ranking Member McDermott said:
"I thank Chairman Brady for working collaboratively on the Protecting the Integrity of Medicare Act. This bill combines a number of bipartisan proposals that make positive changes to our program integrity laws. Moving forward, the American people deserve additional reforms that modernize outdated laws and advance the ball further in the fight against wrongdoers who engage in fraud, waste, and abuse. I intend to continue working with my colleagues in the Congress to improve and strengthen the integrity of our federal health programs."
PIMA would take a number of steps to protect seniors and the Medicare program:
Remove Social Security numbers from Medicare beneficiary cards. This provision is based on legislation introduced by Rep. Sam Johnson and Rep. Lloyd Doggett in each of the last three Congresses. (H.R. 380)
Increase outreach and education for providers by Medicare contractors and other program integrity efforts in the PRIME Act, legislation sponsored by Rep. Peter Roskam and Rep. Earl Blumenauer. (H.R. 818)
Expand who can document the face-to-face encounter required for Medicare durable medical equipment prescriptions to include nurse practitioners and physician assistants, as allowed by state law. This provision is based on legislation introduced previously by Rep. Jim McDermott.
Provide existing beneficiaries the option to receive a Medicare summary notice (MSN) electronically beginning in 2015 and Medicare Administrative Contractor efficiency measures in accordance with a bill introduced by Rep. Jim Renacci and by Rep. Bill Pascrell. (H.R. 289)
Require that the HHS Secretary issue guidance on the application of the “Common Rule,” which provides protection for individuals involved in research by incorporating legislation introduced by Rep. Bill Pascrell and Rep. Charles Boustany. (H.R. 965)
Require the HHS Secretary to issue a report describing how a permanent physician-hospital gainsharing program can best be established based on policy advocated by Rep. Charles Boustany.
Require changes to gainsharing restrictions to apply only to medically necessary services, allowing for the elimination of wasteful activity as previously introduced by Rep. Jim McDermott.
Instruct the HHS Secretary to require each home health agency to obtain a surety bond in the amount of no less than $50,000 as a condition of participation in the Medicare program based on a bill previously introduced by Rep. Jim McDermott.
Repeal a duplicative provision in statute causing unnecessary paperwork and burdens on employers based on a bill introduced by Rep. John Lewis and Rep. Dave Reichert. (H.R. 943)
A section-by-section of the bill can be viewed here.
Unfortunately, a larger than average percentage of children in the United States has less education than their parents. This is a startling statistic as Americans look to compete for jobs in a competitive global economy. Research shows that the higher the educational mobility, the greater the cohesiveness of a country. As a nation, we cannot afford to continue to fall behind other countries and expect our children to have the bright future we all dream they achieve. As a mother with two kids currently enrolled in college, that is not a result I am prepared to accept.
As America falls behind in graduation rates, it is also becoming increasingly exorbitant for parents to afford higher education. From 2003 through 2013, the College Board reported that college tuition prices had increased close to a whopping eighty percent. Student loan debt across the country now stands at an astronomical $1.2 trillion – a number which is higher than the combined GDPs of Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, and exceeds the combined credit card debt in America.
Studies have demonstrated how the existence of any sort of college savings account substantially increases the chances of a child attending college. As little as $500 in a savings plan sees children three times as likely to enroll, and four times as likely to graduate from college. Therefore, a sensible solution must be making saving for higher education more attainable for any American.
529 college savings plans enable families to start saving for their children from the minute they're born. Contributions can be as little as $10 and can be withdrawn tax-free to pay for a whole array of college costs – including room and board. Since it became tax-free to withdraw 529 funds in 2001, 1 million accounts have turned into 12 million. These plans provide a concrete and practical way for hardworking Americans to help send their children to the higher education institution of their choice.
Recently, President Obama introduced a proposal in his budget to begin taxing withdrawals from 529 college savings plans. This would have rendered these plans virtually useless. After a public outcry from both parties, the administration admitted that it wasn't worth the political fight. Although they still refuse to accept that taxing families saving for college is bad public policy, they say they intend to remove that proposal from the budget.
529 college savings plans are an essential tool for today's parents working tirelessly so their children can get a higher education. That's why I introduced my bill, H.R. 529 — that has garnered strong bipartisan support — to expand, strengthen, and improve these plans. Essentially, if they are easier to use, more people will use them. This legislation would modernize these accounts by making computers a covered expense, which we all know is a necessary item for any 21st century college student. Going further, the legislation would expand 529s to allow any refunds to be redeposited tax-free and also updates the tax code to eliminate unnecessary and cumbersome paperwork.
Employment is harder to come by in this new transnational jobs market and anything as sensible and straightforward as reinforcing and reinvigorating 529 plans is a measure that should receive universal bipartisan support.
This sort of commonsense solution is an obvious step to help hardworking families send their children to college, whether that is a four-year college, community college, or technical school. If we intend to help America climb back to the top of the ladder for college graduates across the globe, 529 college savings plans are the perfect vehicle to ensure that future generations receive the education they need to contend for the jobs they deserve. Strengthening 529s will only make America's economy healthier and more competitive in an ever-changing marketplace.
Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) is the vice chair of the House Republican Conference and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.Read More
Who was responsible for reviewing and testing the forms to ensure their accuracy? What review or testing process is in place to ensure the forms’ accuracy?
How can taxpayers determine whether a Form 1095-A they received from the federal marketplace contains errors?
What recourse is available for individuals who have already filed a tax return based on faulty information provided by the government? Will they be required to file again or take some other action? If yes, what is the estimated extra time burden imposed on taxpayers to remedy this mistake?
It was reported that taxpayers who have yet to file their returns have been asked to wait until corrected forms are mailed to them, is this accurate? To the extent these taxpayers are owed a tax refund, will these refunds likewise be delayed?
This failure demonstrates the complications that Obamacare adds to tax filing season. As a result of receiving flawed tax information from HHS, these taxpayers will likely experience challenges and delays in filing their annual tax returns. Chairman Roskam requested that HHS respond no later than March 6, 2015.
U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX), Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security announced today that the Subcommittee will hold a hearing focused on the financial status of the Disability Insurance (DI) and Old Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Funds, and the available legislative options to ensure full DI benefits continue to be paid. The hearing will take place on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 in B-318 Rayburn House Office Building, beginning at 2:00 p.m.
Upon the announcement, Chairman Johnson made the following comment:
“In less than two years, the Disability Insurance program will be unable to pay the benefits on which millions of Americans and their families rely. I am fully committed to ensuring the Disability Insurance program is there for those who truly need it. This hearing will seek to start the much-needed conversation on responsibly addressing the looming insolvency of the Disability Insurance program.”
A list of witnesses will follow. Oral testimony at this hearing will be from invited witnesses only. However, any individual or organization may submit a written statement for consideration by the Committee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing.
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"Our economy, our national security, and our very standing in the world are all tied to our trade agenda. Other countries are trying to reshape the state of play in Asia, and so we have to stay engaged. Our trading partners need to know that the United States is serious about advancing its trade priorities and strengthening our ties in the region. They also need to know that we will not accept just any agreement. We will accept only one that truly breaks down barriers for American exporters. I look forward to talking more about expanding economic cooperation with our friends in Asia."
Other members of the delegation are Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH), Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA), Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA), Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), and Rep. Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE).
WASHINGTON — Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 636, America's Small Business Tax Relief Act, legislation introduced by Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) that will make permanent important tax policies that will give small businesses the certainty they need to grow. Upon passage, Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) issued the following statement.
"Small businesses need more certainty to grow, and this bill will help them plan for the future. We still have a long way to go, but I see this as a down payment on a simpler, flatter, fairer tax code. That's what we need to build a healthy economy and create jobs. And so I want to thank my colleagues for supporting this commonsense idea."
WASHINGTON — Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) delivered the following opening statement during the committee markup of a series of bills to strengthen 529 college savings plans and make permanent important tax provisions.
"So, we're working on three bills today. And the point of all three is to make people's lives easier. It's to give them more certainty about the future. All three deal with the tax code. There's the state and local sales-tax deduction, and there's the R&D credit. We'd make both of these permanent. That would let businesses and families plan for the future—without any fear of expirations or extensions or what have you.
"But I want to single out one bill for special attention. And that's the one offered by Congresswoman Jenkins. This bill would expand the use of 529 college savings plans. These are great tools families use to save for college. They reward people for investing in our kids' future. And they deserve our full support.
"Now, what this bill would do is bring the law up to date with reality. We'd let families use their plans to pay for equipment like computers and software. These things aren't nice-to-haves anymore; they're must-haves. And we'd give families more flexibility to deal with things like college refunds and account withdrawals. The point of all this, as I said, is to give people more control over the future.
"And I have to admit: I was dismayed when the President proposed we tax these plans. I know the President dropped his proposal. But it's not just the policy that's the problem; it's the principle. He wanted to tax these plans so he could create another government program. He wanted to make saving for college more expensive. We want to strengthen and expand these important tools so that a college education is closer in reach for American families.
"So I want to thank Congresswoman Jenkins and Congressman Brady for their work on these bills. And I want to thank all of our members for all their hard work. Thank you."
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