Congressional Committees Consider Veterans’ Health, Chronic Conditions
Several hearings this week will focus on veterans’ health topics. Both the House and the Senate will discuss the implementation of the Veterans Choice Program early in the week, with the Senate holding a hearing on Tuesday, May 12, and the House following on Wednesday, May 13. On Friday, May 15, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health will also consider health care staffing issues.
On Thursday, May 14, the Senate Committee on Finance has scheduled a hearing titled “A Pathway to Improving Care for Medicare Patients with Chronic Conditions.” Dr. Patrick Conway, Acting Principal Deputy Administrator, Deputy Administrator for Innovation and Quality, and Chief Medical Officer, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is slated to testify. Mark E. Miller, Ph.D., Executive Director, Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) will join Dr. Conway as a witness.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Tuesday, May 12: The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will hold a hearing titled “Exploring the Implementation and Future of the Veterans Choice Program.”
- Wednesday, May 13: The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will hold a hearing titled “Assessing the Promise and Progress of the Choice Program.”
- Thursday, May 14: The Senate Committee on Finance will hold a hearing titled “A Pathway to Improving Care for Medicare Patients with Chronic Conditions.”
- Friday, May 15: The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing titled “Overcoming Barriers to More Efficient and Effective VA Staffing.”
CMS Announces Expansion of Pioneer ACOs
On Monday, May 4, CMS announced its intention to expand the Pioneer Accountable Care Organization (ACO) model to a larger population of Medicare beneficiaries. This marks the first time that CMS has used its authority under the Affordable Care Act to expand an alternative payment model demonstration. The announcement follows an April 10 report by the CMS Office of the Actuary, which certified that Pioneer ACOs meet the “stringent criteria for expansion.” The report stated that during the pilot’s first two years, Pioneer ACOs saved Medicare $384 million and generated greater savings relative to both fee-for-service and the Medicare Shared Savings Program.
HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell endorsed expanding the Pioneer ACO model and stated that the model has “demonstrated that patients can get high quality and coordinated care at the right time, and we can generate savings for Medicare and the health care system at large.”
Comment Period Shortened for Acute Care Hospital and LTCH IPPS Payment Proposal
On Monday, May 4, CMS released a correction to the proposed rule titled “Medicare Program; Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System for Acute Care Hospitals and the Long-Term Care Hospital Prospective Payment System Policy Changes and Fiscal Year 2016 Rates; Revisions of Quality Reporting Requirements for Specific Providers, including Changes Related to the Electronic Health Record Incentive Program.”
The correction moves the comment deadline from June 29 to June 16.
DeSalvo Nominated for HHS Assistant Secretary
On Wednesday, May 6, President Obama nominated Karen DeSalvo to be HHS Assistant Secretary. DeSalvo, who currently heads the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), has served as Acting Assistant Secretary since October 2014. She will reportedly continue her roles as both Acting Assistant Secretary and National Coordinator while awaiting Senate confirmation.
Prior to joining HHS, DeSalvo served as Health Commissioner for the City of New Orleans and Senior Health Policy Advisor to New Orleans Mayor Mitchell Landrieu. She was also a professor of medicine and vice dean for community affairs and health policy at Tulane University School of Medicine.