I am a businessman, I am a conservative and I am a member of the Louisiana Legislature. Therefore, I am sensitive to the tremendous challenges Congress faces when it comes to grappling with our federal budget problems. The reality is we must rein in federal spending on those programs that either haven’t been reformed or don’t deliver the results we expect as taxpayers. However, those programs that have been reformed and do deliver results should be given priority — especially those that save lives.

In addition to being a conservative legislator, I am also a kidney transplant recipient. That is why I support Medicare’s End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) program, which provides life-saving treatment and services to hundreds of thousands of Americans suffering from kidney failure. In 2010, Congress — working closely with patients and others in the kidney-care sector — passed a serious reform of the ESRD program, cutting costs and waste and shifting to a bundled payment plan. This shift included a 2 percent payment cut for services and drugs, as well as a “quality incentive program” which ties payments to the quality of patient care.

Medicare’s ESRD program is a highly creditable program — one of the most efficient and effective in our Medicare system. The changes currently being made to the system deserve praise, but more importantly they deserve time to work. Congress should maintain programs that produce quality results at the lowest possible cost for taxpayers when considering important fiscal changes to our national budget.

Steve Pugh

state representative, Districe 73