WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, released the following statement in reaction to the White House health reform proposal:
"The White House proposal contains many common-sense ideas that enjoy the support of both Democrats and Republicans. It's time for us to finish the job of fixing a health system that leaves millions of Americans without access to the care they need and our country on a path to unsustainable health care costs.  I hope we can move health reform forward in a cooperative, bipartisan manner."
The White House proposal includes a number of provisions that are based on legislation championed by Senator Kohl. Such provisions would:
  • Reduce the number of pay-for-delay settlements that keep affordable generic drugs off the market and out of reach for consumers. The Federal Trade Commission has estimated that stopping these types of settlement agreements would save consumers at least $35 billion over the next ten years.  These provisions are based on the bipartisan Preserve Access to Affordable Generic Drugs Act (S. 369), introduced by Senator Kohl and cosponsored by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
  • Require the disclosure of gifts and payments given to doctors from the pharmaceutical, biologic, and medical device industries in order to expose conflicts of interest that arise when physicians receive financial benefits from drug and device makers.  These provisions are based on the bipartisan Physician Payments Sunshine Act (S. 301), introduced by Senators Kohl and Grassley.
  • Improve nursing homes nationwide by providing consumers with more information about individual nursing homes and their track record of care, offering the government better tools for enforcing high quality standards, and encouraging homes to improve on their own. These provisions are based on the bipartisan Nursing Home Transparency and Improvement Act (S. 647), introduced by Senators Kohl and Grassley.
  • Reform the Medicare physician reimbursement so that it rewards health care providers based on the quality of care they provide.  Under this proposal, states like Wisconsin that achieve higher quality-to-cost ratios will receive an increased reimbursement from Medicare.  These provisions are similar to those found in the bipartisan Medicare Payment Improvement Act of 2009 (S.1249), introduced by Senators Kohl, Judd Gregg (R-NH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Russ Feingold (D-WI).
  • Prevent those with violent or criminal histories from working with vulnerable elders in long-term care settings through the creation of a comprehensive nationwide system of background checks.  These provisions are based on the bipartisan Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act (S. 631), which expands a highly successful three-year pilot program instituted in seven states that kept more than 9,500 serial predators out of the long-term care workforce.  S. 631 was introduced by Senators Kohl and Thad Cochran (R-MS).
  • Expand, train, and support the health care workforce focused on older adults. Parts of the White House proposal are based on the Retooling the Health Care Workforce for an Aging America Act (S. 245), introduced by Senators Kohl, Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), and Bob Casey (D-PA).
  • Provide states with incentives and flexibility to provide an increasing number of Medicaid beneficiaries with cost-effective home and community-based (HCBS) services. Parts of the White House proposal are based on the Home and Community Balanced Incentives Act (S. 1256), introduced by Senators Kohl and Cantwell.
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