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Walden’s House panel moves Medicaid clean-up bills


The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., moved forward Tuesday with two bills to address problems of waste, fraud, and abuse within the Medicaid program. The bills were approved by the Subcommittee on Health and now move on to the full committee for a vote.

Walden’s full remarks from Tuesday’s session are below:

“This is our first markup of this Congress, and it opens a new chapter and opportunity for us to lead. It’s a big opportunity and one that we are not taking lightly. Our goal is straight forward – to modernize America’s health care laws by making what’s best for patients our top priority,” said Walden. “Indeed we do start today by going after bad actors, not ignoring them. By going after people who shield their income and deprive people who need help in Medicaid the services that they need.

“As the committee of jurisdiction, we’re focused on ways to strengthen and improve the Medicaid program. We all agree that Medicaid is a critically important safety net for millions of our nation’s citizens, low-income adults, children, pregnant women, the elderly, or those who are blind or have disabilities. We’re committed to protecting these patients and to supporting innovative, patient-centered solutions at the state and local levels, particularly as we work to ensure the solvency of this program.

“We want to prioritize federal funding to make sure that those most in need of medical services in our communities get better quality and affordable care. Today we continue our work with those goals in mind, starting with bills authored by former Chairman Fred Upton and Representative Markwayne Mullin. These bills will empower states with more flexibility. They will help prioritize the Medicaid program for the most vulnerable.

“This important flexibility and reform are exactly what our governors are begging us to give them. Just a couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet and listen to more than a dozen governors from around the country. Their requests were as clear as they were common. They said, ‘Give states the flexibility to care for our people in ways we know work.’ That’s what they want to do.

“The bills we’re considering today originated from our members who listen to their constituents and their leaders from back home who called on Congress to do more to root out waste, fraud, and abuse.

“For the last 14 years, the Government Accountability Office has put Medicaid on the list of high-risk federal programs. Last week before our Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee, the Government Accountability Office and Office of Inspector General both reminded us of how a lack of data and transparency impedes their work. They just recently issued their report – the GAO did – confirming their investigation and what they found. We need to act.

“Today’s commonsense proposals close loopholes, they root out abusers and bad actors, they target savings to help patients most in-need. This is where you make real, serious choices that affect the people in our district by rooting out bad actors and people who shield their income so that the taxpayer money is actually there to help people who are most in-need. That’s what these bills do.

“Know that these are just the first steps – and they are small steps – but they are steps forward in a journey. In the weeks and months ahead, we will actively work to improve the healthcare choices and the affordability of that health care for all patients. Today’s bills represent only a fraction of the work we need to do, but they are an excellent start to our step-by-step approach to improving our health care system for all Americans.”

For more information on today’s legislation, please click here.

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