News Releases

Murray, Smith Reintroduce MediFair Act

Feb 16 2005

Legislation raises Washington state Medicare reimbursement rates to national average, levels playing field for doctors, patients

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- U.S. Senator Patty Murray and U.S. Rep. Adam Smith today reintroduced the MediFair Act. The legislation, which Murray and Smith first introduced in 2002, raises Washington state's Medicare reimbursement rates to the national average and ensures that every state receives at least the national average of per-patient spending. The MediFair Act ensures that Washington state's seniors are on par with seniors around the country and stops punishing the state's health care system for providing efficient, quality care.

Prior to 2003, Washington state ranked 41st in the nation in Medicare payments per beneficiary. When the new Medicare/Prescription drug bill - which both Murray and Smith voted against - is fully implemented, Washington state will fall to 45th in the nation. The MediFair Act works to correct this inequity.

“The Medi-Fair Act will ensure that seniors aren't punished when they choose to live in Washington state,” Senator Murray said. “It will encourage more doctors to accept Medicare patients and will ensure that retirees and patients about to retire can still find a doctor of their choosing. Currently, our state is being penalized because we have a tradition of low-cost, efficient healthcare and healthy seniors. Medicare should reward that.”

“Washington state has been hit especially hard by cuts to the Medicare program and many insurance companies and providers are dropping out of the program because discrepancies in reimbursement rates from state to state, even from county to county, have left very few economic incentives for participation,” said Smith. “This bill will ensure that Washington's seniors are treated on par with seniors around the country. It will stop punishing our state's health care system and our seniors and instead reward the efficiency and good results we've produced.”

The House and Senate companion bills will be co-sponsored in the U.S. Senate by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Edmonds) and in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Larsen (D-Everett), Dicks (D-Belfair), Inslee (D-Bainbridge Island), Baird (D-Vancouver) and McDermott (D-Seattle).

These bills have been endorsed by the Washington State Medical Association, the Washington State Hospital Association, and the Washington Nurses Association.