AOA advocacy helps avert Medicare cuts in trade bill

July 24, 2015
Cuts would have amounted to nearly $700 million.

Aggressive advocacy efforts ensured recent trade legislation did not receive Congressional approval with detrimental language that would fund the provision through continued Medicare cuts.

AOA is strongly opposed to using Medicare cuts to pay for non-Medicare related legislation.

The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) reauthorization bill was ultimately signed into law on June 29, but not before considerable debate and alterations in the U.S. House where bipartisan support was given to nixing further Medicare sequestration.

The U.S. Senate had approved a bill earlier in May that would increase automatic budget cuts of Medicare spending by 0.25% for the second half of fiscal year 2024, amounting to an estimated $700 million reduction in Medicare payments, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That $700 million was intended to offset the $2.9 billion price tag of the trade package.

While the trade legislation reauthorized a program that helps workers who have been put out of the job because of foreign trade, the AOA and other physician organizations made it clear to lawmakers that doctors are strongly opposed to using Medicare cuts to pay for non-Medicare related legislation.

In response to AOA pressure that included high-level meetings with top Congressional leaders, the House removed the pay reduction language in the Senate's bill and passed an AOA-backed, alternative financing plan via a separate trade bill, The Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015. The Senate agreed on this revised version before passing it along for a presidential signature.

Medicare payments to doctors had already been cut by 2% through 2024 as part of sequestration that went into effect March 1, 2013.

Get involved, support optometry's advocacy efforts

The AOA continues to fight for what's best for patients and the profession, and there are several ways for members to get involved. Join the AOA Federal Keyperson program to develop a professional connection and serve as optometry's conduit to our nation's leaders, or by becoming an AOA-PAC investor, one of the most effective ways to participate in the political process.

Check aoa.org/advocacy for the latest updates on important advocacy topics, and for more information on this or other federal topics, contact Matt Willette, AOA's director of congressional relations.

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