Hoeven Outlines Efforts to Provide Certainty for Health Care Providers, Reduce Costs, Empower Veterans to Access Care Closer to Home

Senator Delivers Address at NDMA Annual Meeting

BISMARCK, N.D. – While delivering the keynote address at the North Dakota Medical Association’s (NDMA) annual meeting today, Senator John Hoeven outlined efforts in Congress to find cost-effective solutions to promote certainty for health care providers, reduce health care costs and ensure access to care. Hoeven highlighted legislation signed into law earlier this year and other bills he has cosponsored that support a higher quality, lower-cost health care system for the nation, including:

  • Medicare Access and Chip Reauthorization Act – The measure, which passed Congress and was signed into law in April, repeals the long-troubled Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) cap, which is the formula used to reimburse health-care professionals for treating seniors under Medicare. Hoeven said the bill creates greater certainty for physicians and implements incentives to reward them for quality care and good value, which translates to greater access to care for seniors and a better return on taxpayer dollars.
  • Health Care Safety Net Enhancement Act – This bill, which Hoeven cosponsored in July, extends federal liability protections to on-call and emergency room physicians who are required to provide care under federal law, which results in higher premiums for their malpractice insurance. By lessening their liability, this tort reform legislation will help attract more doctors to serve in these roles and lower health care costs by reducing lawsuits, while still ensuring patient safety and quality of care.

“The cost of health care is a significant challenge for our nation and is felt by all of our citizens and their families,” Hoeven said. “There are steps we can take to help bring these costs down over time while still maintaining access to care. We have already permanently fixed the SGR for Medicare, which resolves a long-term source of uncertainty for our care providers and provides important incentives for quality, high-value care. We can build on this bipartisan success by, among other things, enacting meaningful tort reform to limit frivolous lawsuits, increase the transparency of medical pricing, promote the use of health savings accounts and reform the reimbursement system in Medicare and Medicaid to reduce fraud.”

Hoeven also addressed his work to improve veterans’ access to health care and extended care in their local communities, which carries significant benefits for both veterans and their health care providers. Hoeven and Senator Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) introduced the Veterans Access to Long Term Care and Health Services Act, legislation that allows the VA to enter into provider agreements with qualified health care and extended care facilities. The bill enables more local providers to accept veteran patients without having to comply with burdensome and oftentimes expensive federal contracting requirements.

Further, the Senate passed the Access to Community Care for Veterans Act earlier this year, legislation introduced by Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and cosponsored by Hoeven and a bipartisan group of senators. The legislation amends the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (Choice Act) to allow veterans to obtain health care services in their local community if a Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center or CBOC within 40 miles can’t provide the necessary care. The Moran-Hoeven measure still needs to be taken up by the House.

Following Hoeven’s remarks, he joined the NDMA in presenting the two awards, one to a physician and another to a non-physician, to honor the individuals’ contributions to the medical profession, patients and their community. Dr. Joseph Adducci of Williston received the Physician Community and Professional Services Award and Burt Riskedahl, a retired judge from North Dakota’s South Central Judicial District, received the Friend of Medicine Award.

NDMA also honored the following physicians, marking 40 years since their graduation from medical school: James Brooke of Dickinson, Robert Bury of Bismarck, Bruce Hetland of Bismarck and Lawrence Wilder of Williston.