Lamar Alexander

Feds restore Medicare billing privileges to West TN doctor who had bipartisan backing

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has restored Medicare billing privileges to  Dr. Bryan Merrick, who was cut off last year over what appeared to be very minor paperwork errors. Tennessee Star has quotes from some political figures who got involved – notably including Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who had called for Senate hearings on the regulation used in cutting off Merrick, and former state Democratic Chairman Roy Herron, who was acting as the physician’s attorney.

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Corker outdoes Alexander in critique of Roy Moore

Tennessee’s two U.S. senators have issued short comments distancing themselves from Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore following reports of the Republican former judge pursuing teenage girls years ago.

Sen. Bob Corker, via Twitter on Saturday (as reported by The Hill):

Look, I’m sorry, but even before these reports surfaced, Roy Moore’s nomination was a bridge too far.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, in a prepared statement (as reported earlier by The Tennessean and echoing several other prominent GOP politicians):

“If these disturbing allegations are true, Roy Moore should withdraw from the Senate race.”

 

Committee approves designation of 20,000 acres of Cherokee National Forest as wilderness

Press release from Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) today made the following statements after the Senate’s Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee advanced legislation they introduced earlier this year to preserve Tennessee’s heritage for future generations.

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Norris questioned on gay marriage at hearing on confirmation as U.S. judge; no vote taken

Tennessee state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, nominated for a federal judgeship in West Tennessee, told U.S. senators Wednesday he considers the legality of same-sex marriage to be a settled issue and that he would follow it as a precedent if confirmed to the bench, reports Michael Collins.

The Senate Judiciary Committee took no vote Wednesday on whether to confirm President Donald Trump’s nomination of Norris, R-Colliervile, leaving that to another meeting.  Norris has supported state legislation that critics argue would undermine the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling that legalized gay marriage in 2015.

He also was one of the leading sponsors of a state resolution calling for a federal Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman. (Note: The apparent reference is to SJR27 back in 2003, which had then-Sen.  David Fowler, now head of the Family Action Council of Tennessee and a staunch opponent of gay marriage, as prime sponsor and Norris as a co-sponsor.)

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Alexander seeks Senate hearings on fed rule that stopped payments to West TN physician

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander is asking that Sen. Orrin Hatch hold Senate Finance Committee hearings on whether an a federal regulation used to block Medicare payments to West Tennessee’s Dr. Bryan Merrick should be revoked, reports Tennessee Star.

Alexander chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, which he says does not have jurisdiction over the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) regulation. Senator Hatch chairs the Senate Finance Committee, which does have jurisdiction over the CMS regulation.

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On a rural West TN doctor’s fight with feds, backed by area politicians appealing to Alexander, Kustoff

The federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has shut off payments to Dr. Bryan Merrick after finding clerical errors in billings through McKenzie Medical Center for a handful of Medicare patients. The move threatens to shut down the center – which serves around 4,000 patients in a rural area with few medical providers — and has brought a bipartisan outpouring of pleas to help Merrick from West Tennessee political leaders to members of the Tennessee congressional delegation, so far without results.

The latest plea was a letter last week from McKenzie Mayor Jill Holland to U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander as chairman of the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee, asking him to convene a hearing with the goal of “revocation or modification of a particularly egregious Obama-era regulation” that CMS used in stopping Medicare payments to Merrick that is now “jeopardizing health care to hundreds and eventually thousands of citizens” in Carroll, Weakley and Henry counties. As of this weekend, Alexander had not responded to the letter or a reporter’s email inquiry seeking comment.

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Alexander and Corker on Trump and pending tax overhaul

Congressional Republicans involved in crafting a federal tax overhaul are bracing for President Trump to potentially disturb their negotiations at any moment, as he has done throughout his nine months in office and this week on a bipartisan Senate agreement to shore up Obamacare insurance markets, reports Politico.

“Sure, it’s going to come,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who’s been the target of his share of tweets from the president.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who brokered the health agreement that Trump has shifted between criticizing and praising, added that he had already told the president that his staying on track on tax reform could be key to getting a landmark achievement.

“If the president of the United States focuses on one thing, with everything he’s got, for as long it takes, he can usually get what he wants,” Alexander said.

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Alexander, Murray propose bipartisan, short-term Obamacare deal

Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray say they have reached an agreement on a bipartisan Obamacare deal to fund a key insurance subsidy program and provide states flexibility to skirt some requirements of the health care law, reports Politico.

There is no assurance that the agreement will get to the Senate floor, however. Republicans on Tuesday were lukewarm about the prospect of resuming debate over whether to try to prop up Obamacare after multiple failed GOP attempts to repeal the law.

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Alexander to try again on bipartisan Obamacare fix

With plans for a U.S. Senate vote on the latest Republican proposal to repeal Obamacare abandoned, Sen. Lamar Alexander said today he will restart efforts to come  up with a short-term bill that can win bipartisan support.

Here’s the press release:

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Haslam, Alexander & Corker back latest Obamacare repeal effort

Gov. Bill Haslam is cheering for passage of a new U.S. Senate proposal for repealing Obamacare that he says is “flat out good for Tennessee.” Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker indicate they’ll vote for it, though there’s lots of criticism from doctors, hospitals, veterans and Democrats.

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