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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the President Before Signing Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act

Rose Garden

4:44 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  I decided that on a day like today, we shouldn’t be inside.  So I am very pleased to mark a significant bipartisan achievement, and I want to congratulate Speaker Boehner and Leader Nancy Pelosi for the work they did to help make this happen. 

For the last 13 years, we have been confronted with what’s called a “doc fix.”  Basically, the way the law was written, to deal with Medicaid payments to doctors, there was always the danger each year that suddenly, arbitrarily, doctors’ payments would get cut off, and that was going to be a significant danger to Medicare patients.  And obviously the doctors had a lot of trouble continuing to provide services.

Not only does this legislation permanently fix payments to doctors, but it also improves it, because what it starts doing is encouraging payments based on quality and not the number of tests that are provided or the number of procedures that are applied, but whether or not people actually start feeling better.  And it encourages us to continue to make the health care system smarter without denying service.  As a consequence, it’s going to be good for people who use Medicare, it’s going to be good for our seniors.  Ultimately, it’s going to be good for all of us because what we’ve seen is over the last three, four years, the cost of health care has slowed to the lowest levels in 50 years and part of that’s because we’re starting to do health care smarter.

This is going to build on that progress that we’ve already made.  It also expands the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  It provides health insurance to young people all across the country, and when our kids are healthy, that means they’re going to be healthy adults.  Ultimately, that’s going to put less strain on the system as well.  So this was a bipartisan effort with Republicans and Democrats coming together to do something that’s smart and common-sense.  And my hope is, is it becomes a habit.

But I want to congratulate all of the folks involved.  Because we wanted to make sure doctors’ payments didn’t cut off, I’m signing it now rather than wait for getting members of Congress down here.  Hopefully sometime next week or the week after we’ll be able to have a reception where I can acknowledge the great work that they did while they’re enjoying White House hospitality.

With that, I will start signing the bill.

4:48 P.M. EDT