Back from Recess: Capitol Hill Hearing Recap

Incentivizing Quality Outcomes in Medicare Part A Hearing 

On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health held a hearing "The Evolution of Quality in Medicare Part A"  to review the status of quality programs in Medicare Part A program, including pay for performance programs and value based purchasing programs. The hearing featured witnesses from the. The witnesses, New York Hospital Association, the GW Center for Health innovation and Policy Research, Almost Family and the American Academy of Physical Medicine Rehabilitation, offered a variety of viewpoints including how quality programs have affected hospitals and post-acute care facilities. 

During the hearing, several witnesses and Members of Congress raised the important role Medicare value-based incentive programs can play in promoting greater use of telehealth services, a HIMSS public policy priority.  Barbra Gage, Associate Research Professor, George Washington University, Center for Healthcare Innovation and Policy Research spoke about how certain incentive programs including ACO's, bundled payments, and the value based purchasing program have led to "hospitals moving towards telehealth despite it being unfunded by Medicare." Additionally, in response to question from Rep. Mike Thompson on how the Value Based Purchasing model has helped grow the adoption of telemedicine,  Elisabeth Wynn (Senior Vice President, Health Economics and Finance, Greater New York Hospital Association) stated that we've seen growth in telemedicine, especially in urban settings where it has been used to provide specialist care.

House Veteran Affairs Committee Holds Hearing on the Future of the VA Hearing Also on Wednesday, the House Veteran Affairs Committee held a hearing"From Tumult To Transformation: The Commission On Care And The Future Of The VA Healthcare System" to review the report released in July by the Commission on Care. Tasked with better care for veterans, The Commission made  18 recommendations to improve veterans' medical services and the Veterans Health Administration. The hearing focused on several of these 18 recommendations, and featured two Commissioners as witnesses, Dr. Delos (Toby) M. Cosgrove M.D., and Nancy Schlichting..  One of the recommendations outlined in the Commission's report is modernizing the VA's outdated IT systems. In the report, the commission recommends that the VA move to a commercial off-the-shelf EHR system, similar to what the DOD launched over a year ago. Several members of the Committee including Rep. Phil Roe agreed that the VA should adopt a commercially available EHR system as soon as possible.  

House Budget Committee Examines CBO Scoring of the CMS Innovation Center Initiatives Hearing

Lastly, on Wednesday, the House Budget Committee held a hearing "Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation: Scoring Assumptions and Real-World Implications," with featured testimony from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Center for American Progress, and American Enterprise Institute. The hearing examined roles and responsibility of CMMI, which is tasked withdeveloping and testing new delivery and payment models under Medicare and Medicaid, and discussed how the CBO comes up with their analysis for potential costs or savings within CMMI. Central to the discussion was the methodology CBO used to estimate that CMMI would reduce federal spending by about $34 billion over the next 10 years, despite little evidence to-date justifying that amount of savings. CBO's Deputy Director Mark Hadley argued that due to the lack of an established track record with CMMI, they have to focus on potential savings rather actual savings. In addition, testimony centered around the ability for CMMI to make participation in the demonstrations mandatory rather than voluntary and, in effect, enact changes to the Medicare and Medicaid programs which is a power typically reserved for Congress.