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Remarks on Congressional Passage of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015

April 21, 2015

Hello, everybody. What a spectacular day! The Rose Garden is especially beautiful this time of year, and I thought what better place to have Members of Congress and members of the Cabinet and some outstanding advocacy groups come to celebrate something else that is gorgeous, and that is a bipartisan piece of legislation.

The main reason I'm here is to say thank you. I want to thank everybody who's here who helped to pass the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, otherwise known as the permanent doc fix. [Laughter] This law finally solves a serious problem. As all of you know, almost every year for the past 13 years, doctors who care for Medicare patients faced the possibility of an arbitrary cut in their pay. In 2010 alone, it happened five times, and Congress repeatedly scrambled to stop it from happening and patch it over. I remember being involved in a few of those patches myself. All of us said again and again, let's just try to fix this once and for all.

And this time, we finally did. No more temporary patches. I am really excited about it. I actually signed the bill into law last week just to make sure that America's doctors didn't get hit by any deep cuts, even if it was just for a day. And so I wanted to make sure we signed it, without the fanfare. But I figured we could all still enjoy each other's company, because we did not just settle for fixing an old formula, we replaced it with a better one.

We're moving away from the old model, which incentivized more treatment over better treatment, something that costs a lot more money. From now on, we're going to compensate doctors based more on how well they help their patients get healthy and stay healthy. And that's a smarter approach, and it's going to get better results for patients. And I'm confident it's also going to be more cost effective.

I shouldn't say this with John Boehner here—[laughter]—but that's one way that this legislation builds on the Affordable Care Act. [Laughter] But let's put that aside for a second. [Laughter]

This legislation also extends funding for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Programs, which—[applause]. Yay! Which helps connect tens of thousands of new moms to nurses and social workers and critical support that they need for the first months after a child's birth. That means it's a big victory for working families and a big victory for our children.

It extends funding for community health centers, which is a vital resource for families and communities nationwide. And finally, it funds the Children's Health Insurance Program, which ensures millions of kids get the care that they need to grow up healthy and strong. And there's nothing more important than that.

So obviously, a lot of people were involved in this process, but a couple of special thank yous. First of all, this would not have happened without the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, and we very much appreciate his leadership on this. It would not have happened without the Democratic Leader, Nancy Pelosi. It wouldn't have happened without Senators Orrin Hatch and Ron Wyden and Representatives Fred Upton, Frank Pallone, Paul Ryan, Sandy Levin. I see McCarthy there. He counted votes. [Laughter] We're grateful for that, as well.

But most importantly, I just want to thank everybody for showing that Republicans and Democrats can come together and put aside partisanship for something important, not just on small things, not just on the must-dos, but on things that actually make the country work better. We did not, in this case, simply kick the can down the road; we solved a problem, and we made life better for a lot of people. And we crossed one of Washington's perennial cliffs off the list for good. And we proved that's possible. And my hope is, is that that helps build a little more momentum to get some other good stuff done.

We're—I've said this before: We're not going to agree on everything. I mean, there are some areas where—that's why we have a party system—there are strong disagreements. But where we can find areas of agreement, where we can focus on common sense and focus on the people who sent us here, I think there's nothing the American people would rather see than us be able to make this town work. And this was a great start and a great example.

So I want to thank everybody. Appreciate it. Enjoy this beautiful day. Thank you, everybody.

NOTE: The President spoke at 5:45 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. H.R. 2, approved April 16, was assigned Public Law No. 114-10.

Barack Obama, Remarks on Congressional Passage of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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