Tester strengthens Medicare with budget vote

By supporting budget compromise, Senator keeps doctors available to older Montanans

(U.S. SENATE) – Montana seniors stand to benefit from Senator Jon Tester’s support for the bipartisan budget compromise.

The budget deal passed by Republicans and Democrats in the Senate will strengthen Medicare by making sure doctors continue to receive the payments they need to cover the cost of seeing older patients.

Tester on Wednesday joined with 63 other Senators of both parties to pass the budget deal that ended the ongoing cycle of budget crises and provided needed economic certainty to help Montana businesses grow and create jobs.

“A vote against this bipartisan compromise is not only a vote for more gridlock in Washington, it’s a vote against Montana seniors,” Tester said. “Hundreds of thousands of Montanans rely on Medicare for high-quality health care, and we need to be working together to support them and all Montanans. Governing requires making tough choices, but supporting our seniors is a no-brainer.”

The bipartisan agreement, which nearly 80 percent of the House of Representatives supported earlier this week, includes a three-month extension of payments to cover the difference between Medicare doctors’ costs and what they are paid under Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR). The extension gives Tester and his colleagues time to work out a permanent solution to the payment gap without hurting Montana seniors in the meantime.

The Senate effort to fix the payment gap is being led by fellow Montana Senator Max Baucus.

Tester also announced today that he is backing a bipartisan bill to increase older Montanans’ access to needed physical and occupational therapy treatments by repealing the Medicare therapy cap.

The Medicare therapy cap forces many older Montanans to pay large out-of-pocket expenses or forgo care for conditions like multiple sclerosis or illnesses like stroke.

By removing the cap, which was implemented in 1997 without any Congressional hearings, Tester’s bill will raise the Medicare reimbursement rate and help older Montanans get outpatient treatments they need.

A statement about his vote on the bipartisan budget agreement is available online HERE.

Tester’s bipartisan Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act by les_braswell5524