Chairman Neal Calls on the Trump Administration to Explain Use of Clinical Algorithms in CMS Programs

Oct 14, 2020
Press Release
This letter follows a series of letters Neal sent to professional medical societies requesting their engagement in the Committee’s efforts to advance racial health equity

SPRINGFIELD, MA— Yesterday, continuing his efforts to address misuse of race in clinical decision-making, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) urged Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma to closely examine this issue in CMS programs. Citing recent findings in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), Neal explained how Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries are likely affected by the use of a biological definition of race in the tools used to make clinical decisions and how CMS should partner with the Ways and Means Committee and medical community to evaluate and advance racial health equity.

“As the focal point for all quality, clinical, medical science issues, survey and certification, and policies for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) programs, the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality (CCSQ) should be both aware and particularly interested in this issue,” emphasized Neal. “In light of the Committee’s ongoing work to understand and end racial health inequities, and our focus on reducing maternal mortality inequities, I have already sent letters to seven of the professional societies responsible for development and use of some of these clinical algorithms. I believe that collaboration across providers and payers will ensure that the provider community readies itself to make change in this space and write to request an update on how CMS uses these clinical algorithms in its programs.”

Neal urged CMS to “take this inquiry as an opportunity to immediately evaluate the unintended consequences of clinical decision tools, including algorithms developed by specific professional societies, along with their uses and relevance to CMS initiatives related to quality and safety for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.”

Chairman Neal also requested that CMS provide Committee staff with a briefing on the current use of racial bias in clinical decision-making tools by October 30, 2020.

Following his recent series of letters to professional medical societies, Neal announced a Request for Information soliciting input on the misuse of race within clinical care-at-large.

Neal’s full letter to Administrator Verma is available HERE.