- On July 16, 2015, the Senate Finance Committee convened a hearing entitled “Reviewing HealthCare.gov Controls”. The sole witness for the hearing was Seto J. Bagdoyan, Director, Audit Services, Forensic and Investigative Service, United States Government Accountability Office (GAO). During the hearing members discussed the results of a recently-released GAO report entitled “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [ACA]: Observations on 18 Undercover Tests of Enrollment Controls for Health-Care Coverage and Consumer Subsidies Provided under the Act”. [See next section for more information]. During the hearing Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) expressed concern with the results of the GAO study, stating that the federal Exchange appears to have “failed spectacularly” in a display of “mind-boggling incompetence”. He criticized the Administration for failing to address fraud and integrity concerns associated with the federal Marketplace. Hatch also suggested that HHS has focused its resources on bolstering Marketplace enrollment, often at the expense of program integrity. Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) argued that is important to recall that the GAO report under discussion does not demonstrate any real-world fraud taking place. More information on the hearing may be found here.
- On July 15, 2015, the Senate Special Aging Committee convened a hearing entitled “Diabetes Research: Improving Lives on the Path to a Cure”. Witnesses for the hearing included Habib Zaghouani, PhD, J. Lavenia Edwards Chair In Pediatrics, Department Of Molecular Microbiology And Immunology, Neurology And Child Health, University of Missouri School of Medicine; Griffin Rodgers, MD, Director Of The National Institute Of Diabetes And Digestive And Kidney Disease (NIDKK) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH); Bob Amato, Former Runner And Coach, Member Of Athletic Hall Of Fame At Providence College; Kate Hall, Recent High-School Graduate And Track And Field Athlete; Amelia Cooper, Age 15, Diagnosed With Type 1 Diabetes At The Age 12; Isabelle Levesque, Age 10, Diagnosed With Type 1 Diabetes At Age 2. During the hearing Amato, Cooper, Levesque, and Hall discussed their experiences living with diabetes, and the importance of continuous glucose monitoring technology in managing their condition. During the hearing Chairwoman Susan Collins (R-ME) discussed the significant costs associated with treating diabetes, and the financial toll the disease takes on individuals, the health system, and the Medicare program. She said she is concerned that Medicare beneficiaries are being denied coverage for CGM, and discussed legislation she has introduced with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) which would mandate Medicare coverage for CGM (the Medicare CGM Access Act of 2015, S. 804). More information on the hearing may be found here.
- On July 14, 2015, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness convened a hearing entitled “Unlocking the Cures for America’s Most Deadly Diseases”. Witnesses for the hearing included Dr. Tom Coburn, Former United States Senator (R-OK); Mr. Christopher Frangione, Vice President, Prize Development, XPRIZE; Mr. Peter Huber, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute; and Dr. Keith Yamamoto, Vice Chancellor for Research, University of California, San Francisco. More information may be found here.
House of Representatives
- On July 14, 2015, the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations convened a hearing entitled “Medicare Part D: Measures Needed to Strengthen Program Integrity”. Witnesses for the hearing included Ann Maxwell, Assistant Inspector General, Evaluation and Inspections, Office of Inspector General (OIG), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); and Shantanu Agrawal, M.D., Deputy Administrator and Director, CMS Center for Program Integrity. During the hearing Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) expressed concern that CMS has failed to adopt a number of OIG recommendations to strengthen Part D program integrity over the last several years. He claimed that CMS’s failure to implement these recommendations has led to trends of questionable billing associated with pharmacies, prescribers, and beneficiaries. “Now it is incumbent upon CMS to take action and actually prevent fraud and abuse before it reaches a level that requires a nationwide takedown,” Murphy said. “The Committee is concerned that it continues to hold hearings like this one today where we see steps not taken and tools not utilized to protect the integrity of these programs as well as our taxpayers’ dollars.” OIG’s Ann Maxwell discussed the results of two OIG reports, entitled Ensuring the Integrity of Medicare Part D (OEI-03-15-00180), and Questionable Billing and Geographic Hotspots Point to Potential Fraud and Abuse in Medicare Part D (OEI-02-15-00190). More information may be found here.
- On July 14, 2015, the House Veterans’ Affairs Health Subcommittee convened a hearing to review veterans’ health legislation. Bills under consideration included:
- HR 272 — Medal of Honor Priority Care Act
- HR 353 — Veterans' Access to Hearing Health Act
- HR 359 — Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act
- HR 421 — Classified Veterans Access to Care Act
- HR 423 — Newborn Care Improvement Act
- HR 1356 — Women Veterans Access to Quality Care Act
- HR 1688 — A bill to amend the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 to designate 20 graduate medical education residency positions specifically for the study of optometry.
- HR 1862 — Veterans' Credit Protection Act
- HR 2464 — A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the accountability of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to the Inspector General of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- HR 2914 — Build a Better VA Act
- HR 2915 — Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act
- Draft Bill — Draft Bill on VA medical facility construction
- HR 3016 — A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify the role of podiatrists in the Department of Veterans Affairs. More information on the hearing may be found here.