Yesterday the House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), passed four bipartisan health bills. The legislation will now head to the full House of Representatives for consideration.
As Chairman Brady said in his opening remarks:
“We have before us several bipartisan health bills which will improve how our government functions – from Medicare fraud prevention to burden reduction through streamlined processes, which has been a key initiative the Health Subcommittee has undertaken this year through the Medicare Red Tape Relief Project.
“It’s critical for this Committee to continually search for new reforms – especially when that means helping our nation’s seniors. It’s our duty to ensure our seniors are getting the best possible service and help when making health care decisions.”
The following bills were approved by the Committee:
1. H.R. 6662, the Empowering Seniors’ Enrollment Decision Act of 2018, sponsored by Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI).
This legislation helps seniors by allowing non-deemed Medicare Cost Plan enrollees to take advantage of the Special Enrollment Period offered to deemed Medicare Cost Plan enrollees. Doing so ensures these seniors have an adequate amount of time to make a decision on Medicare coverage that is best for them.
The Committee approved the bill by a unanimous voice vote. Rep. Paulsen said:
“[This bill] provides a little more certainty for our seniors that may need some extra time as they navigate their Medicare choices and decide which coverage option is best for them.”
2. H.R. 6690, the Fighting Fraud to Protect Care for Seniors Act of 2018, sponsored by Health Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).
To crack down on waste, fraud, and abuse, this bill establishes a three-year pilot program to test the use of new technologies to strengthen the integrity of the Medicare program.
One amendment was offered by Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL). The Committee tabled the amendment 24 – 16.
The Committee approved the bill by a unanimous voice vote. Chairman Roskam said:
“Medicare fraud and error continues to cost about $40 billion annually. … Despite advances in technology, predictive modeling, and authentication security we have yet to see our health care payment system evolve and adopt these innovative tools – in other words, we have a lot of other things that are happening in the private sector that are eclipsing what’s been happening in Medicare in particular. This bill proposes a remedy.”
3. H.R. 6561, the Comprehensive Care for Seniors Act of 2018, sponsored by Ways and Means Committee Members Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), and Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA); Energy and Commerce Committee Members Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI); as well as Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ).
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published regulations in August 2016 proposing changes to the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). H.R. 6561 directs the Secretary of HHS to finalize their proposed PACE regulations while providing flexibility to make updates or changes as needed.
The Committee approved the bill by a unanimous voice vote. Rep. Walorski said:
“Seniors facing health challenges should have the option to receive high-quality health care while continuing to live at home, and the PACE program helps them do that. … The PACE program is long overdue for an update, and this bipartisan, commonsense legislation will ensure improvements are made quickly so more seniors can live longer at home.”
4. H.R. 3635, the Local Coverage Determination Clarification Act of 2018, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI).
This legislation would establish transparency, certainty, and consistency for Medicare beneficiaries and providers by improving the process through which Medicare Administrative Contractors (MAC) make local coverage determinations (LCDs), such as by requiring MACs to publicly post proposed LCDs online.
The Committee approved the bill by a unanimous voice vote. Rep. Jenkins said:
“This legislation…will improve transparency and boost accountability in the Medicare local coverage determinations process, as well as ensure access and care for our nation’s seniors. … These reforms are necessary to ensure that local coverage decisions include physicians’ medical judgement, and that no decisions are made that inadvertently deny patients access to necessary care.”
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