House Legislative Actions

The House passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2015 which, among other things: directs the Department of Defense (DOD) to carry out Defense Health Program (DHP) Research and Development (RDT&E) activities with respect to traumatic brain injuries; requires the DOD Office of Health to work in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to: (1) identify targets and biomarkers for triple negative breast cancer; and (2) provide information useful in biomarker selection, drug discovery and clinical trials design; requires the treatment of developmental disabilities under TRICARE to include behavioral health treatment, including applied behavioral analysis; authorizes the services to establish cooperative health care agreements between military installations and local or regional health care entities; authorizes the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences to enter into contracts with and make grants to other nonprofit entities; authorizes the peer reviewed medical research program to consider selecting medical research projects relating to hydrocephalus; finds that the DOD and VA have failed to implement a solution that allows seamless electronic sharing of medical health care data; requires DOD to provide for a one-on-one mental health assessment of each member during each 180-day period that the member is deployed; directs the Comptroller General (CG) to report to the defense and appropriations committees evaluating similarities and differences in the approaches to identifying and recovering improper payments across Medicare and TRICARE. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce also reported the following health legislation: H.R. 1098, the Traumatic Brain Injury Reauthorization Act of 2013; H.R. 3548, the Improving Trauma Care Act of 2013; and H.R. 4080, the Trauma Systems and Regionalization of Emergency Care Reauthorization Act. This week the House will consider Rep. Benishek’s (R-MI) bill, H.R. 2072, Demanding Accountability for Veterans Act; Rep. Coffman’s (R-CO) bill, H.R. 4261, the Gulf War Health Research Reform Act of 2014; and Rep. Michaud’s (D-ME) bill, H.R. 4399, the Comprehensive Department of Veterans Affairs Performance Management and Accountability Reform Act of 2014.

Vote on Confirmation of New HHS Secretary Upcoming

Last week the Senate Finance Committee voted 21-3 to approve the President’s nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell to replace Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of HHS. The Senate Majority Leader said the nomination would be brought to the full Senate for a vote during the first week in June. The White House also elevated Kristie Canegallo to be the Deputy Chief of Staff who will focus on the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and information technology reform.

Republicans Pounce on PPACA Misdeeds

Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees expressed their displeasure with reports that up to one million individuals who obtained coverage under HealthCare.gov may have received subsidy payments exceeding amounts to which they may be entitled. The House Energy and Commerce Committee sent letters to HHS and PPACA contractors demanding documents explaining the scope of the problem and when they first were made aware of the problem. House Ways and Means Committee Republicans leaders also sent a letter to the Treasury Secretary demanding information on the number of individuals who provided income verification and the status of any Internal Revenue Service (IRS) determination of the accuracy of the information. Republicans said that as a result of the overpayments the individuals receiving overpayments will receive letters from the IRS in an attempt to recoup the overpayments. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement charging that the HealthCare.gov website “continues to be a black hole into which millions of dollars are disappearing by the day.” In addition, House and Senate Republicans sent separate letters to the leaders of Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and HHS seeking more information about potential penalties for states with a backlog of Medicaid applications.

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