Yesterday, the House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), passed a series of bipartisan bills focused on developing a more transparent and efficient health care system, increasing accountability at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), improving service at the Social Security Administration (SSA), and improving the tax rules affecting water infrastructure investment. These bills will now move to the full House of Representatives for consideration.
The following bills were approved by the Committee:
H.R. 4952, the “Improving Seniors Access to Quality Benefits Act,” sponsored by Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI).
This bill requires the Secretary of HHS to analyze and report to Congress what impact including quality bonus payments under the current benchmark is having on Medicare Advantage plans and patients.
The Committee passed the bill by unanimous consent. Rep. Kelly said:
“We talk often about paying for value in the Medicare program and this policy undermines that. The benchmark cap is clearly a problem and we need more information on it. … This is a good step in the right direction, and I hope this Committee can work on fully repealing the benchmark cap.”
H.R. 6138, the “Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) Payment Transparency Act of 2018,” sponsored by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Rep. John Larson (D-CT).
This bill adds an ASC representative to the Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment. By doing this, we are ensuring ASCs have a voice when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services make changes to payment policies.
The Committee passed the bill by unanimous consent. Rep. Nunes said:
“These simple and straightforward changes will help us protect patients’ access to cost-effective and high-quality services performed by ASC’s.”
H.R. 6142, the “Reducing Drug Waste Act of 2018,” sponsored by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX).
This legislation calls on the Department of Health and Human Services to issue a report, in consultation with stakeholders, on single-use drug vials that would examine Medicare claims data and analyze ways to create efficiencies while ensuring patient safety and access.
The Committee passed the bill by unanimous consent. Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) said in support of the legislation:
“As a fiscal conservative, I support this commonsense bill which will authorize a study on how we can reduce drug waste and therefore save taxpayer dollars. I also want to emphasize that it is important to get the insight of all stakeholder groups so that we can fully understand the issue.”
H.R. 3500, the “Ensuring Integrity in the IRS Workforce Act of 2018,” sponsored by Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD).
This bill prohibits the Commissioner of the IRS from being able to rehire any former employee of the IRS who was fired from the agency for misconduct.
The Committee passed the bill by unanimous consent. Rep. Noem said:
“For the last two years, we in the Ways and Means Committee have worked hard to ease burdens on taxpayers. But even with our historic tax cuts bill now enshrined in law, there’s no getting around the fact that taxpayers continue to provide the IRS with their sensitive, personal information like Social Security numbers, birthdays, and wage data. IRS employees work with some of Americans’ most sensitive information. And it’s critical these positions of public trust can be given to people that can be relied on to take that role seriously. This bill would take an important step towards ensuring that all new IRS employees fit that standard.”
H.R. 6124, the “Tribal Social Security Fairness Act of 2018,” sponsored by Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA).
This long overdue bill amends Title II of the Social Security Act to allow for voluntary agreements between Indian Tribal Councils and the Social Security Commissioner so that Tribal council members can pay FICA taxes and subsequently receive Social Security benefits.
The Committee passed the bill by unanimous consent. Rep. Reichert said:
“This ensures all tribal governments across the country have the same opportunity to opt into Social Security that state and local governments do. This way, tribal leaders can participate in the Social Security program that so many others rely on.”
H.R. 6084, the “Improving Social Security’s Service to Victims of Identity Theft Act,” sponsored by Rep. Mike Bishop (R-MI) and Rep. John Larson (D-CT).
This commonsense legislation gives victims of identity theft one point of contact at the Social Security Administration, ensuring they are not tossed around from employee to employee during this often stressful, but sadly all too common, experience.
The Committee passed the bill by unanimous consent. Rep. Bishop said:
“For too long, Social Security’s customer service has been letting down Americans who rightfully look to the agency for help when it’s needed. … We know that victims of identity theft have enough to deal with to get their lives back on track. They should not be forced to navigate the vast bureaucracy of the Social Security Administration on their own.”
H.R. 519, the “Water and Agriculture Tax Reform Act of 2018,” sponsored by Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO).
This bill helps promote the efficient use of water resources by providing flexibility to the tax-exempt mutual ditch and irrigation companies that are so important to the development and maintenance of water storage and delivery systems in rural communities and beyond.
The Committee passed the bill by unanimous consent. Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) said in support of the measure:
“We always think of these irrigation delivery districts as being a rural phenomenon. But for a lot of our urban areas…where we’ve grown over what was previously agricultural land, we have neighborhoods where the water for their irrigation is one of these delivery-type districts.”
CLICK HERE to learn more about this week’s markup.