Washington, D.C. – Months after Secure Rural Schools (SRS) reauthorization efforts failed in Congress, Alaskan Congressman Young made good on his commitment to find funding for the program so critical to forested communities across Alaska. The two year extension to the SRS program was included in H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, which provides patient-centered reforms to Medicare and updates the fundamentally flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, also known as the “Doc Fix.”
“Last year’s inaction on Secure Rural Schools in the Senate was a huge blow to the rural communities in Southeast Alaska who depend on the program to lessen the impacts of declining revenues from reduced federal timber harvests,” said Congressman Don Young. “As a senior member of the House Natural Resources Committee and cosponsor of House efforts to reauthorize SRS, I made a commitment to move this critical legislation as quickly as possible in order to put hard working Alaskans back to work and provide much needed funding for roads, emergency services and schools. I’m glad to see that the House leadership listened to my demands for action and made sure this program was included in H.R. 2.”
The overall bill, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, reflects years of work to repeal and replace the SGR formula, which would have cut reimbursement rates by 21% for doctors accepting Medicare patients beginning April 1, 2015. H.R. 2 passed the House by a vote of 392 to 37 and is expected to pass the Senate in the coming days.
“For over a decade, Congress has needed to make last minute fixes to this fundamentally flawed Medicare formula,” said Congressman Young. “Instead of passing real reforms, we’ve kicked the can down the road 17 different times to the detriment of the American tax payer, countless seniors, children and families, and the overall success of our healthcare system. Without today’s actions, the crippling cuts caused by the SGR formula would have placed countless beneficiaries in jeopardy. In Alaska, it’s already difficult enough to find health care professionals willing to accept Medicare patients, and the magnitude of these cuts would have made it nearly impossible for doctors to provide care. Today, I stood with an overwhelming majority of my colleagues to once and for all solve this problem.”