Washington, D.C. – As Congress works to reform health care to bring down costs and ensure, quality affordable health care, U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02) is working to get a fair deal for Washington state. Specifically, Larsen is pushing to protect access to health care for Washington state patients by ensuring that Washington state is rewarded, not penalized, for providing high-quality, low-cost patient care.
“Lower Medicare payment rates mean fewer providers in Washington state, and fewer providers mean less access to care for local seniors and other patients,” said Larsen. “Washington state should be rewarded, not penalized, for providing quality, efficient care. That is why I’m working to get a fair deal for our state and make it easier for local seniors and other patients to see a doctor when they need to.”
Larsen is pushing for stronger reforms to help Washington state by changing the way health care is delivered to reward “value not volume” – value for the patient, not volume of tests or procedures. To that end, Larsen has sent a bipartisan letter to House leadership along with 27 of his House colleagues led by Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-04) urging action to fix Medicare geographic disparities in reimbursement.
Washington state is one of several states in which the quality of care exceeds the national average and Medicare costs per patient are substantially lower than the national average. For example, the average federal Medicare payment per patient in Everett, Washington is $6,905 while McAllen, Texas averages $14,946. Studies have shown that increased spending per patient has no correlation with quality of care. While the quality of care in Everett is the same if not better compared to McAllen, medical providers there get paid more than twice as much, costing taxpayers more than twice as much. So while Washington state provides higher-quality, lower-cost care in many cases and delivers better results for patients, Washington state is penalized by the current Medicare reimbursement formula.
Larsen has joined a number of his colleagues to request a meeting with House leadership to restore fairness for Washington and other states before the bill comes up for a House vote. Democratic leaders have agreed to meet with Larsen and his colleagues, but a date has yet to be set.