U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) today issued the following statement after joining his colleagues to pass H.R. 6111, a bill that extended certain tax deductions and included a temporary fix to physician payments under Medicare. The bill passed by a vote of 367-45:
I voted for this bill because of many of the good things it included. However, I was very disappointed several key provisions were left out of the final package.
Specifically, I was glad to see that we were able to extend tax deductions for state sales taxes, college tuition, and out-of-pocket teacher expenses. These provisions help many working families stay afloat as they face economic challenges.
Unfortunately, these important tax deductions were paired with several troubling provisions. The bill ignored the need for a timber tax deduction, something I worked hard to see included and that I plan to work for next year. Increased ocean drilling was also needlessly included; we are not going to drill our way to energy independence, and Congress would be better served to back more funds for alternative energy research.
While I am pleased that this bill will stop a 5.1 percent cut to Medicare physicians payments next year, Congress chose a sloppy solution that will undermine our ability to deal with this situation over the long-term. Freezing the payment rates for physicians is merely a short-term fix. Americans deserve better than this kind of lazy legislation; unless Congress seriously addresses this problem next year, we will once again face the same problem. A long-term fix is critical to maintaining continuous service for Medicare recipients.