Republican Control Will Provide Accountability and Produce Results

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 7, 2022
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BURGESS. Madam Speaker, he so quite correctly outlined some of the difficulties facing Congress as we get to this end-of-the-year crunch of legislation that has to pass before the end of the year.

There is no place where this is more pronounced than for our Nation's doctors. The very people that we asked to get us through the pandemic, the very people that we have asked to take care of us. And now we arrive at the end of this Congress, and we say: Thank you for your service, here is your pay cut. And they go: Wait, what? A paycheck.

The Surgeon General came to the Doctors Caucus earlier this year and said he is concerned. He goes around and talks to doctors all over the country, he is concerned about the level of burnout that he is seeing in the Nation's physicians. He said he has never seen this before.

It really should not be a surprise. You work doctors and nurses day and night during the pandemic, and then you turn around and say, You know what, we don't value what you do. The evidence for that is right as we barrel into the end of the year, there are significant cuts to the physician fee schedule, sequesters, paygo, budget neutrality requirements that in aggregate spell about an 8 to 9 percent reduction in payments for physicians.

For years, I fought to repeal the sustainable growth rate formula. The sustainable growth rate formula was repealed in 2015. I thought, hallelujah, we won't spend every December having to worry about how to make our doctors whole because the formula has gone away.

But now through administrative actions and through budgetary requirements, doctors are facing these pay cuts. So here we are in another December trying to scramble together a doc fix so our doctors can remain in practice.

But what makes this year so different and what makes this year so devastating to the Nation's doctors is on top of the 8 to 9 percent cuts in Medicare, they are facing 8 to 9 percent inflation. Nowhere else in the Federal Government could you say, Hey, we are going to hold you at level funding and not take into account the fact that the cost of living adjustment--it would be a pay cut anywhere else.

Well, I will tell you this, it is a pay cut in your doctor's office, and they are feeling it. The aggregate weight of these pay cuts is going to be such that we will drive doctors out of practice. I hear from docs all the time that they are going to have to close up shop.

What does that mean? It means further consolidation within the healthcare industry. It means further hospital zoning physician practices, private equity-only physician practices because we just can't keep up with what the government is doing to us.

Now, there is a chance that something will happen before the end of this year and stop these cuts before they are administered. But I will tell you this, in the new Congress--in the next Congress--it is my intention that we have to be very serious about tackling this problem in our authorizing committees.

Madam Speaker, I am on the Committee of Energy and Commerce, I expect that very early in the year we will be intentional about fixing this problem because we can't find ourselves here in December of another year where our docs are saying, We are at the end of our ropes, and we just can't take it anymore.

This is a serious problem; it needs to be fixed. President Biden would talk about, Hey, Republicans, they are going to cut your Social Security and Medicare.

Well, Mr. President, you know who is cutting Medicare right now?

You are. It is your agency, and you won't stop it. Next Congress, Republicans will.