Press Releases

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Travel and Tourism Caucus co-chair introduces bill to reauthorize Brand USA

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus co-chair Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), along with co-chair Rep Sam Farr (D-CA) and caucus member Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), announced the introduction of H.R. 4450, the Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act.  The legislation will strengthen the United States’ competitiveness in the global travel and tourism markets by reauthorizing Brand USA – a public-private partnership designed to encourage tourism to the United States. H.R. 4450 also strengthens Brand USA by adding a number of accountability and transparency requirements.

“The United States is a global hub for commerce and travel, and an exceptional attraction for international tourists,” said Bilirakis.  “Tourism is the lifeblood of our economy – especially in Florida. Increased tourism means more American and Floridian jobs. The Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act helps increase Brand USA’s efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency. Promotion of the United States as a global tourism destination means promoting economic growth. It is time to get Americans across the country back to work, and this legislation will contribute to that effort.”

“In the past 4 years, Brand USA has marketed the United States to 8 different countries,” said Farr. “Their efforts brought in 1.1 million new visitors to our country, injecting needed dollars into local economies to help boost job creation throughout the United States. Thanks to the leadership of Mr. Bilirakis, we now have a bill that will not only enhance Brand USA’s mission but will demonstrate America’s commitment to building an even stronger travel economy.”

Nationally, the travel sector is the country’s largest service export, fueling one in every eight jobs.  According to an economic analysis by Oxford Economics, Brand USA’s activities resulted in a $7.4 billion impact on the U.S. economy in fiscal year 2013.

Identical companion legislation was also introduced today by United States Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Roy Blunt (R-MO). To view a complete list of groups that support H.R. 4450, click here.

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Farr’s Medicare GPCI Fix heads to President’s desk

Bill to fix underpayment of California doctors passes Senate 64-35
 
WASHINGTON, DC – The Senate today voted 64-35 to pass Rep. Sam Farr’s, D-Carmel, bill to permanently fix the underpayment by Medicare to California doctors who practice in certain counties. The bill now heads to the White House where President Obama is expected to sign it. Farr’s Geographic Practice Cost Index (GPCI) Fix would solve a four-decade-old problem that mislabels 14 California counties as “rural,” meaning doctors are under compensated for Medicare procedures. Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties are among those affected by this problem. 
 
“Perseverance has paid off! For nearly 15 years, we have been diligently working to fix this problem,” said Farr. “Now doctors all over California will be fully reimbursed for seeing Medicare patients. More doctors will want to practice here; expanding access to quality healthcare not just for seniors but for everyone.”
 
In 1966, when the formula was initiated, counties were designated as either "rural" or "urban," with the expectation that those designations would be updated every few years. That never happened, and as a result, doctors in counties that have seen economic growth are being compensated at levels significantly lower than those in nearby counties. For instance, counties such as San Diego and Sacramento are improperly designated as “rural’ despite large populations. The 14 California counties (San Benito, Santa Cruz, Marin, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Monterey, Sonoma, Placer, El Dorado, Yolo, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, Riverside and San Bernardino) are underpaid by as much as 10% each year, forcing doctors practicing in those counties to forgo up to $54 million in Medicare funding each year.
 
Farr’s GPCI Fix would require the reimbursement formula to be calculated based on Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), which better reflect the cost of practicing medicine. Medicare already uses MSAs for hospital payments. The higher payments would be phased in over a six-year period starting in 2017.
 
“From the beginning this has always been about ensuring access to doctors for everyone,” said Farr. “Seniors now have the assurance that more doctors will treat them and doctors know they will be properly reimbursed for providing that care, allowing them to practice in all counties. This is a huge win for California!”
 
The GPCI Fix was included as part of H.R. 4302, a bill to extended Medicare payments through the end of the 2014. Both California Senators voted for the bill. The House of Representatives passed the legislation by voice vote on March 27, 2014.
 
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Statement on the federal plan to combat ocean acidification

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., released the following statement in response to the Strategic Plan for Federal Research and Monitoring of Ocean Acidification by the federal Interagency Working Group on Ocean Acidification: 
 
“There is no greater threat to the health of our oceans than the growing problem of ocean acidification. Ocean acidification endangers many forms of aquatic life; disrupting complex marine ecosystems. We originally thought we had decades to slow the rate of acidification but scientific evidence has shown that we are rapidly approaching a point of no return.
 
“Ocean acidification threatens our economy. The loss of species, particularly shellfish, endangers the jobs of fishermen who rely on an abundant healthy population. But just as all aquatic life is interconnected, so are the varying aspects that make up our national economy. To put it simply, ocean acidification is not just a coastal problem, it is a problem for everyone.
 
“This strategic plan calls for a close look at the socio-economic impacts of ocean acidification, the development of new technologies for tracking changes in seawater chemistry, and increased monitoring to see how marine ecosystems and fisheries are being impacted.  Armed with this new information, we can better predict future changes to our critical ocean resources and look for new ways to stop the threat of ocean acidification. 
 
“I am pleased the federal government has taken the first steps to tackling this issue. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and the relevant government agencies to address the growing problem of ocean acidification.” 
 
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House passes Farr’s California Medicare GPCI Fix

Bill improves healthcare for Medicare patients, increases access to quality doctors for all
 
WASHINGTON, DC – The House of Representatives today passed Rep. Sam Farr’s, D-Carmel, bill to permanently fix the underpayment by Medicare to California doctors who practice in certain counties. The Geographic Practice Cost Index (GPCI) Fix would solve a four-decade-old problem that mislabels 14 California counties as “rural,” meaning doctors are undercompensated for Medicare procedures. Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz are among those affected by this problem.
 
“We face a shortage of doctors wanting to practice here because of unfair Medicare payment rates,” said Farr. “This simple fix to an outdated formula will improve care for Medicare patients and increase access to quality doctors for everyone.”
 
In 1966, when the formula was initiated, counties were designated as either "rural" or "urban," with the expectation that those designations would be updated every few years. That never happened, and as a result, doctors in counties that have seen economic growth are being compensated at levels significantly lower than those in nearby counties. For instance, counties such as San Diego and Sacramento are improperly designated as “rural’ despite large populations. The 14 California counties (San Benito, Santa Cruz, Marin, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Monterey, Sonoma, Placer, El Dorado, Yolo, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, Riverside and San Bernardino) are underpaid by as much as 10% each year, forcing doctors practicing in those counties to forgo up to $54 million in Medicare funding each year.
 
Farr’s GPCI Fix would require the reimbursement formula to be calculated based on Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) which better reflect the cost of practicing medicine. MSAs are already used by Medicare for hospital payments. The higher payments would be phased in over a six year period starting in 2017.
 
“California Medicare patients should have access to quality healthcare and doctors in every county should be fairly reimbursed for providing that care,” said Farr. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to restore that link.”
 
The GPCI Fix was included as part of H.R. 4302, a bill to extended Medicare payments through the end of the 2014, which passed the House on a voice vote. The entire bill, including Farr’s GPCI Fix, now heads to the Senate for passage. 
 
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Statement on the “No More National Monuments” Act

WASHINGTON, DC –Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., whose district includes Pinnacles National Park, Fort Ord National Monument and the California Coastal National Monument, released the following statement after House Republicans passed H.R. 1459, a bill that threatens the establishment of future national monuments under the Antiquities Act: 
 
“Since Theodore Roosevelt, Presidents have used the Antiquities Act to preserve such iconic American places as the Grand Canyon, the Grand Tetons, or in my district Pinnacles National Park, Fort Ord National Monument and the California Coastal National Monument.  Without that foresight, we would have lost these special places forever – destroying the unparalleled beauty of their landscape and losing part of our national cultural heritage. Generations of Americans would have been denied life-changing experiences like gazing out over the vast emptiness of the Grand Canyon or watching a California condor soar high above the volcanic spires of Pinnacles.
 
“This bill does more than just threaten that legacy; it also threatens our economy. Since President Theodore Roosevelt established Pinnacles National Monument in 1908, millions of people have been drawn to our region of California. Now that it is a national park, even more visitors have come to see the park, injecting needed dollars into local economies.  The park, along with the two other national monuments, plays an integral role in our economy and support jobs throughout the Central Coast. For every one dollar we invest in the national parks system, we see a return of $10 to local economies. With that high of a rate of return, the Antiquities Act may be one of the greatest jobs bills ever passed by Congress.
 
“There is nothing more uniquely American than our national park system. I would encourage my Republican colleagues to join with the majority of Americans who support increased protection of public lands. Let’s reinvest in preserving our country’s natural treasures for future generations to enjoy and prosper from.”
 
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