Legislative Activity

Energy and Commerce and SGR Reform

Last week, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce released updated draft legislation that addresses physician payments under Medicare and reforms the sustainable growth rate. While Republicans Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA), and Michael Burgess (R-TX) have been active in the drafting process, the draft now claims bipartisan status with the support of Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA), Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and the Dean of the House, Cong. John Dingell (D-MI). The draft would update physician payments by 0.5 percent during a transition phase to a new enhanced fee-for-service system, with updates based on performance and quality. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has previously scored SGR repeal at $139 billion over ten years, but this draft does not currently include a full offset.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Monday, July 22: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will hold a markup of the committee print to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to reform the sustainable growth rate and Medicare payment for physicians’ services.
  • Tuesday, July 23: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce will continue its markup of the sustainable growth rate reform committee print. The House Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections will hold a joint hearing on “The Employer Mandate: Examining the Delay and its Effect on Workplaces.” The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on “Pay-for-Delay Deals: Limiting Competition and Costing Consumers.” The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will also hold a Health Subcommittee markup of pending health legislation.
  • Wednesday, July 24: The Senate Committee on Finance will hold a hearing on “Health Information Technology: Using it to Improve Care.” The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship will hold a hearing on small business concerns regarding implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Executive Branch Activity

Falls Prevention Trial

The National Institute on Aging is “seeking applications from researchers for a clinical trial to prevent serious injuries resulting from falls in older people. The request, part of an initiative by the new Falls Injuries Prevention Partnership between NIA and the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), represents a unique collaboration joining scientists with clinicians and patients in pursuit of an effective strategy. PCORI will commit up to $30 million to the effort, and NIA will administer the project, including the application process and peer review.”

Open Payments Mobile Apps

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) introduced “two free mobile device applications (apps) to help physicians and health care industry users to track their payments and other financial transfers the industry will report under the OPEN PAYMENTS program (Physician Payments Sunshine Act).” Created by a provision of the ACA, “OPEN PAYMENTS creates greater public transparency about the financial transactions between doctors, teaching hospitals, drug and device manufacturers, and other health care businesses.”

CMS: Data Demonstrates EHR Success

CMS released new data demonstrating that “doctors and hospitals are using electronic health records (EHRs) to provide more information securely to patients and are using that information to help manage their patients’ care.” CMS states that “approximately 80 percent of eligible hospitals and more than 50 percent of eligible professionals have adopted EHRs and received incentive payments from Medicare or Medicaid.”