SMART Act Passes in U.S. House of Representatives
Roy Franco
December 19, 2012

SMART Move – House Passes H.R. 1845 (formerly H.R. 1063) to Amend the Medicare Secondary Payer Act

It must be Christmas for MARC and its members.  The coalition formed a little over three years ago to bring about reasonable change to the Medicare Secondary Payer Act was given an early present for being extra nice this year.  Congress took action that will lead to a win-win-win situation for everyone involved with a Medicare beneficiary claimant for a workers’ compensation or liability claim.

H.R. 1063 was introduced early last year by Congressman Tim Murphy, a Republican fromPennsylvania, who happens to also be a Doctor.  His co-sponsor was Ron Kind a Democrat from Wisconsin that made it obvious the proposed Bill had bi-partisan support.  Upon introduction, it was immediately referred to two House committees that share jurisdiction over Medicare issues:  Energy & Commerce and Ways & Means.

Over the course of two years, MARC members visited Congressional Representatives and joined forces with key stakeholders, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Association for Justice, to develop and demonstrate the bi-partisan nature of the legislature.  After a lot of leather burned on the Hill, a possible pathway for H.R. 1063 to move in the House started to crystallize at the end of spring.  Major pushes by MARC membership with calls, letters, emails and more site visits during the Summer turned out be just what was needed for Energy & Commerce to “mark-up” the legislation at committee hearing.  On September 20, 2012 the committee meeting went better than anyone expected.  There were no objections to recommended amendments and H.R. 1063 was whisked out of Energy & Commerce.   All that stood in the way from a House vote was a similar vote by the Ways & Means committee.

Of course, there are always hurdles in D.C. to work through, and H.R. 1063 had several that got in its way.  One hurdle was the contentious Presidential election that meant even fewer days Congress would have on its calendar to possibly move this legislation.  However, MARC used the downtime wisely working with stakeholders to keep this issue in front of Congressional leadership staff.  Everyone agreed it was good policy; the only question was whether the legislative clock would run out.   However, with hurdles there also can be opportunities, and a huge break came for H.R. 1063 when the Congressional Budget Office issued its score on how much it would cost the U.S. to implement.  MARC was absolutely delighted to learn that the legislation it had helped to develop was a saver for the U.S. to the tune of $45 million.

Attempts to amend the Medicare Secondary Payer Act have been an issue in front of Congress for over 10 years.  Success always hinged on obtaining a score from the Congressional Budget Office which is no easy feat.  The lack of data to score has always been the problem preventing a score.  MARC solved this issue by removing the need to review such non-existent data and make it more about saving the U.S. money.  That recipe created the right mix of ingredients to get the job done, and now H.R. 1063 is getting noticed.  Already with a co-sponsorship of over 139 House Members and a saver to boot, momentum was building to include the legislation with an end of year package Congress would be working on in its lame duck session.