Committee on Energy and Commerce

Fred Upton

#CuresIn4Words: “Cures Leads to Hope”


[[{"fid":"987","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"231","width":"288","class":"media-element file-full"}}]] From left to right: Todd, Anna, Grace, Ellie, and Karen Helton 21st Century Cures is relatable for every family. And momentum for #CuresNow is stronger than ever because of passionate advocates like the Helton Family from North Carolina. Two years ago, Todd and Karen Helton were the proud parents of three beautiful girls, Anna, Grace, and 14-year-old Ellie. Sadly, without warning, tragedy struck. On July 15, 2014, on the second day of the school year, Ellie woke up complaining of a headache. But it soon became apparent that this was not a typical headache after Ellie lost consciousness. After an urgent rush to two different hospitals (the first one did not have a pediatric neurology unit), the Heltons learned it was not just a headache Ellie had been suffering from, it was a brain aneurysm the size of a plum. The aneurysm was located on her brain stem, and despite three different surgeries, the swelling never subsided and Ellie passed away. [[{"fid":"988","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"202","width":"288","class":"media-element file-full"}}]] “To describe Ellie in one word would be ‘amazing’ ”- Grace Helton From that day forward, the Helton Family turned their grief into determination. “We don’t want this to be about us and how we live,” said Todd. “We want it to be more about how we can do what we can with this to try to live in a world where this doesn’t happen, where parents don’t have to go through losing a child, where sisters don’t have to go through losing a sibling.” This sparked the formation of Live Like Ellie, a cause inspired by the very essence of young Ellie Helton. [[{"fid":"989","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"217","width":"288","class":"media-element file-full"}}]] Rep. Ellmers at the Live Like Ellie 5k in North Carolina. Ellie’s story spread quickly and caught the attention of the local congresswoman who wanted to do everything she could to support Ellie’s cause. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) joined the Helton Family as well as over 500 other participants for a 5K that raised more than $44,000 for brain aneurysm awareness.  [[{"fid":"990","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"282","width":"212","class":"media-element file-full"}}]] Todd and Rep. Ellmers meet in her Washington, D.C. office to discuss raising awareness for deadly diseases Todd was recently in Washington, D.C., for Brain Aneurysm Advocacy Day. He met with members across Capitol Hill, including his Congresswoman and friend, Rep. Ellmers. In those meetings, Todd shared some alarming statistics – as the Brain Aneurysm Foundation reports, an estimated 6 million Americans, one out of every 50 people, have an unruptured brain aneurysm. A rupture occurs every 18 minutes, affecting approximately 30,000 people each year. [[{"fid":"991","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"228","width":"288","class":"media-element file-full"}}]] Click HERE to watch Todd Helton’s #CuresIn4Words. More can be done for the one in 50 Americans that live with un-ruptured brain aneurysms. 21st Century Cures is a non-partisan initiative that goes beyond party lines and facilitates collaboration between scientists, researchers, medical professionals, and legislators. We need #CuresNow to help kids like Ellie. Read More

E&C Members Selected to Help Lead House Effort to Finalize Comprehensive Energy Bill with Senate


WASHINGTON, DC – As momentum builds in the multi-year effort to deliver policies that say #Yes2Energy, the U.S. House of Representatives today voted to officially go to Conference with the Senate on the first comprehensive energy package in nearly ten years. Following the vote, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) today appointed full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and twelve additional Energy and Commerce Committee Republican members to help lead House negotiators in finalizing a compromise comprehensive energy bill with the Senate. Committee conferees include: Chairman Fred Upton Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) Chairman Emeritus Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) Energy and Power Vice Chairman Pete Olson (R-TX) Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) Chairman Upton commented, “The script has been flipped on our energy abundance, and it’s about time our policies caught up. While we’ve got our work cut out for us, conferencing with the Senate marks an important milestone. This effort is about jobs. It’s about keeping energy affordable. It’s about boosting our energy security, here and across the globe. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate and my friends across the aisle to enact meaningful reforms that truly make a difference for folks in Michigan and across the country.” Included in the House amendment to S. 2012 were several committee provisions that have already passed the House, including: H.R. 8, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act, the committee’s comprehensive energy bill aimed at modernizing our energy laws for the 21st century; H.R. 4583, to promote a 21st century energy and manufacturing workforce, authored by Energy and Power Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC); H.R. 2080, a bill to extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project involving the Clark Canyon Dam; H.R. 2081, a bill to extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project involving the Gibson Dam; H.R. 4411, a bill to extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project involving the Gathright Dam, authored by committee member Rep. Morgan Griffith; H.R. 4412, a bill to extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project involving the Flannagan Dam, also authored by Rep. Griffith; H.R. 4416, a bill to extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project involving the Jennings Randolph Dam, authored by committee member Rep. David McKinley; and H.R. 4434, a bill to extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project involving the Cannonsville Dam. ###  Read More

Comprehensive Energy Reform Marks Another Milestone


WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) spoke this afternoon in favor of the House amendment to S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016. The legislation, scheduled for a House vote this afternoon, will move important provisions of H.R. 8, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act, which passed the House last December, one step closer to providing an energy future based on abundance and innovation. “This bill is about jobs. It’s about keeping energy affordable. It’s about boosting our energy security, here and across the globe,” said Upton on the House floor. “H.R. 8 is the embodiment of an all-of-the-above energy strategy.”  [[{"fid":"986","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"486","width":"676","style":"width: 500px; height: 359px;","class":"media-element file-full"}}]] Watch Chairman Upton’s floor remarks here. Read Upton’s remarks here. Read More

#SubHealth Examines HHS Cybersecurity Efforts


WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-PA), today held a hearing examining cybersecurity efforts and responsibilities at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The hearing examined H.R. 5068, the HHS Data Protection Act, authored by committee members Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) and Rep. Doris Matsui (R-CA). The bipartisan legislation will establish the Office of the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) within HHS, elevating the HHS CISO from where the position currently sits underneath HHS’ Chief Information Officer (CIO). In April 2015, the committee released the results of its investigation of information security at the FDA, which identified serious weaknesses in the information security programs at HHS. Examination of these incidents revealed that many shared a root cause – the subordination of information security to information operations, as a result of the organizational structure in place at HHS with regards to its CIO and CISO. “As a result of an investigation conducted by the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations to examine information security at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it was determined that serious weaknesses existed in the overall information security programs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS),” stated Chairman Pitts. “It seems a major part of the problem is the organizational structure in place at HHS that puts information security second to information operations.” Mac McMillan, Chairman and CEO of CynergisTek, Inc., testified in support of H.R. 5068, saying, “I sincerely support the elevation of the Chief Information Security Officer role to a position equivalent to other senior leaders within the Department of Health and Human Services and in particular the Chief Information Officer. When these two positions have equal authority, are both (sic) focused on a common mission and working collaboratively the CIO and CIOS form a complementary and effective team to ensure the protection of information assets for an organization. …One of the most often questions I get asked by healthcare leadership and Boards is ‘where should the CISO report?’ I welcome the opportunity to engage the members on this matter.” Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) asked witnesses if they thought elevating the HHS CISO would be warranted and yield success. “This is really about organizational structure. As a military guy, somebody’s got to be in charge. I mean, that’s really the basic debate.” Mr. Joshua Corman, Director of Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council, acknowledged that under the proposal put forth by Reps. Long and Matsui, “you can have success.” Full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) concluded, “Our oversight identified a problem. And we have a thoughtful solution in the HHS Data Protection Act to address it.” Additional information on today’s hearing, including a background memo, witness testimony, and an archived video can be found on our website here. ### Read More

Florence and the Teen


[[{"fid":"982","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"276","width":"433","class":"media-element file-full"}}]] Watch the video HERE. Like most teenage girls, 15-year-old Karinya Chen was looking forward to catching her favorite band, Florence and the Machine, in concert when their tour came through Austin, Texas. Except Karinya is not like most teens. She is a patient at Hospice Austin and has been battling paraganglioma, a rare form of cancer the last five years. Unfortunately, Karinya was too ill to attend the concert this week, but as the saying goes, the show must go on… and Florence and the Machine gave Karinya her own private concert, singing some of her favorite songs including Shake it Out and Dog Days are Over. According to Austin’s FOX 7, “For Karinya, the song ‘Shake it Out’ has a special meaning. ‘There's always darkness before the dawn. As a cancer patient you learn not to take things for granted,’ she said. The 15-year-old is not shy, and even joined in on the singing with Florence, and harmonizing.” It was a remarkable day that truly made an impact in the life of one Texas teen. As FOX 7 concluded, “Although her body is attacking itself right now, Karinya's perseverance shines brighter.” There have already been over a million views collectively – watch Florence “bring the house down” for yourself: Watch "Shake it Out" and "Dog Days are Over." [[{"fid":"983","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"77","width":"200","class":"media-element file-full"}}]] Florence and the Machine give bedside concert to teen in hospice care [[{"fid":"984","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"256","width":"432","class":"media-element file-full"}}]] Watch the FOX 7 story HERE 15-year-old Karinya Chen has been fighting a rare form of cancer for the past five years. Through the ordeal she has maintained a positive attitude with the help of some music. An old fashioned record player sits in Karinya Chen's hospice room, playing one of her favorite songs by Florence and the Machine. “She walked in and said, 'I'm Florence' and I was like oh my God! Fangirl moment,” Chen said. Karinya was supposed to go to their concert last Thursday, but became too sick to make it. That's when the staff at Hospice Austin's Christopher House decided to try and get in touch with the band. “It never hurts to ask and people want to do a good thing if they have the opportunity,” Christie Kremer, nurse practitioner , said. Hospice staff and Florence were soon working together to create an unforgettable experience for Karinya. She is fighting paraganglioma, a rare form of cancer. For Karinya, the song “Shake it Out” has a special meaning. “There's always darkness before the dawn. As a cancer patient you learn not to take things for granted,” she said. The 15-year-old is not shy, and even joined in on the singing with Florence, and harmonizing. “I'm alright I'm alright. I'm not that great,” she said jokingly. “She held my hand too. She did the traditional London greeting and that was so special.  Like, Florence welch sat next to my bed and gave me hugs kisses guys,” Chen said. Although her body is attacking itself right now, Karinya's perseverance shines brighter. “I believe in miracles and this was a miracle sent from heaven, and she's an angel,” Chen said about Florence. Read the full article online HERE. ###   Read More

Walden Excoriates FCC Following Circuit Court Decision On JSA Rule


WASHINGTON, DC – Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) issued the following statement after the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the FCC’s decision to limit joint sales agreements: “This is yet another unsurprising chapter in the FCC’s miserable history on the media ownership rules. We have warned the Commission repeatedly over the past three Congresses that it cannot shirk its statutory responsibility and it cannot cut corners on good process. Today, the court correctly points out that the FCC’s failure to address the media ownership rules in the Quadrennial Review, which at this point is ten years late, is fatal to its actions on joint sales agreements. In other words, the FCC can’t put the cart before the horse, in addition to its many other process failures,” said Walden. He continued, “These failures have real world consequences, taking a particular toll on minority broadcasters and minority media creators, who are already struggling mightily to survive. It is a sad statement on FCC leadership that the agency must be taken to court in order to force it to comply with the plain reading of its statute; this entire process was an unnecessary waste of time and money and taxpayers are footing the bill. This committee will continue its longstanding effort to work on reforming FCC processes and force the FCC to address the years of compounded bad habits that have made it an institution that sees itself as above the law. Instead of tilting after windmills on ISP privacy and other headline-grabbing issues du jour, the FCC should do the work that Congress has assigned.” ###  Read More

Obamacare Premiums Reveal More RATE SHOCK

2016/05/25 has begun the dreaded process of unveiling premiums for 2017 health care plans. Spoiler alert – the rates are even higher than last year with some plans asking for increases as high as 89 percent. “Sadly, for a lot of folks it seems the sky’s the limit when it comes to premium hikes,” said full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). “For six years, families and individuals have wanted to know when they’ll have quality, affordable health care - they’re still waiting and growing tired of the rate shock year in and year out. The good news is that House Republicans are listening to patients, who are desperate for relief. Our committee recently held a constructive hearing about policies that can better increase patient choices, lower costs, and encourage plan innovation. And Speaker Ryan’s task force is hard at work building a fairer plan that will improve pre-existing condition protections, empower patients to get – and keep – affordable coverage, and relax mandates that are leading to one-size-fits-all health care plans.” [[{"fid":"978","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"116","width":"146","class":"media-element file-full"}}]] Early Analysis Finds Higher ObamaCare Premium Hikes ObamaCare premium increases will be higher than last year, according to a new analysis of early data. The analysis from the consulting firm Avalere Health finds that proposed ObamaCare premiums for silver-level plans are increasing an average of 16 percent in nine states that so far have complete data. The proposed increases for silver plans, the most popular, vary widely, from a 44 percent average increase in Vermont to a 5 percent increase in Washington state. The increases appear to be higher than last year on average. An Avalere analysis at a similar point in the process last year found an average increase of about 6 percent. … Click HERE to read the full article online. [[{"fid":"979","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"65","width":"468","class":"media-element file-full"}}]] New York’s Obamacare Firms Eye Big Rate Hike It’s enough to make you sick! Health insurers operating on New York’s Obamacare insurance exchange are seeking to boost rates next year by an average of 17.3% for individual policies, according to data released Wednesday by the state. The proposed increases, which must still be approved by the state’s Department of Financial Services, range from 6.1% sought by MVP Health Plan Inc. and HealthNow New York Inc., to a whopping 89% requested by Crystal Run Health Plan LLC. Rates for small group plans would also rise by an average of 12%, according to the data. … Click HERE to read the full story online. [[{"fid":"980","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"184","width":"244","class":"media-element file-full"}}]] Insurers are Looking for Obamacare Price Hikes Obamacare plan customers should brace for sticker shock when the administration posts insurers' preliminary rate requests for 2017 this week. Health plans are asking for sharp price increases, after suffering big losses on exchanges in the last two years. Regulators caution that these are preliminary requests and final rates could look a lot different. Insurers cite rising drug costs and patients who utilize a lot of medical services for the price-hike requests, which range from 17 percent in New York, and more than 20 percent in Virginia, to 30 percent rate increase requests from Oregon's largest insurers. … Click HERE to read the full story online. [[{"fid":"981","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"72","width":"476","class":"media-element file-full"}}]] Get Ready for Higher Obamacare Rates Next Year … Over the last few years, average premium increases in the Obamacare markets have been lower than the increases for people who bought their own insurance in premiums before the Affordable Care Act. But several trends are coming together that suggest that pattern will break when plan premiums are announced in early November. Many plans may increase prices by 10 percent, or more. Over the last two years, I’ve written articles warning against scary headlines that exaggerate premium increases. Next year, those scary headlines are more likely to be accurate. … Click HERE to read the full story online. ###   Read More

Examining Cybersecurity Responsibilities at HHS


[[{"fid":"974","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full"},"type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"alt":"Examining Cybersecurity Responsibilities at HHS","height":"380","width":"640","class":"media-element file-full"}}]] Read More

#SubOversight Examines Integrity of Medicare and Medicaid Programs


WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), today held a hearing examining waste, fraud, and abuse within the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), and HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) testified. “Just last year, HHS estimated approximately $89 billion dollars in improper payments through Medicare and Medicaid,” stated Chairman Murphy. “This means that the federal government cannot verify the accuracy of one out of every ten payments.” Chairman Murphy raised questions with the panel about site visits to verify providers, specifically flagging for Dr. Shantanu Agrawal, Deputy Administrator and Director, Center for Program Integrity at CMS, incidents when officials conducted site visits and issued reports saying they did not meet standards to qualify as a provider, yet half of these “providers” enrolled into the official Medicare provider database anyway. Dr. Agrawal responded by acknowledging that “there are elements of the process that need to be changed.” Later in the hearing, Chairman Murphy followed up on the provider site visits. CMS has issued guidance limiting on-site verification by contractors, but a GAO report cautioned this could increase the potential for fraud. Seto Bagdoyan, Director of Audit Services, Forensic Audits and Investigative Service at GAO, pointed out why solely relying on raw data is not enough, and that boots on the ground and criminal investigators are needed. He testified, “Well if you dial back the verification steps, and you can essentially meet the new guidance by picking up the phone, dialing a provider and asking them ‘is this your address’ and the provider says ‘yes,’ then you leave it at that, that obviously is potential concern.” Ann Maxwell, Assistant Inspector General at HHS’ OIG, also emphasized the importance of CMS fully implementing and maximizing tools designed to prevent unscrupulous providers from enrolling into Medicare, such as enhanced provider screening. Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) highlighted the number of reports focused on Medicare and Medicaid fraud over the last 10 years, saying, “It truly is astonishing that after 10 years of albeit thoughtful reports – many reports – we’ve continued to allow our nation’s largest health insurance programs to run really with this much fraud for this long of a period of time. But I’m encouraged that we’re continuing as a subcommittee for answers that protect beneficiaries as well as taxpayer dollars.” Chairman Murphy concluded the hearing by echoing Ranking Member Diana DeGette’s (D-CO) interest in holding a follow-up hearing to measure CMS’s progress in one year. Additional information on today’s hearing, including a background memo, witness testimony, and an archived video can be found on our website here. ### Read More

House Clears Monumental Update to Chemical Safety Laws


WASHINGTON, DC – The House of Representatives today passed a landmark bicameral, bipartisan overhaul of our chemical safety standards. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act passed the House by a vote of 403 to 12 and is further evidence of the committee’s ongoing bipartisan #RecordOfSuccess. For over three years, the committee has examined the Toxic Substances Control Act and has conducted nine hearings examining all aspects of the laws shortcomings. The bill passed today is the product of months of bipartisan House and Senate negotiations working out the differences between the two chambers’ versions of the bill and represents a vast improvement over current law. Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) commented, “This is sweeping legislation with monumental benefits for virtually every man, woman, and child in the United States. This bill represents a balanced and thoughtful compromise that makes long needed improvements to an outdated and ineffective law. It’s the culmination of a multi-year, multi-Congress effort and marks the first consequential update of the Toxic Substances Control Act in 40 years. I thank everyone who worked hard to get us to where we are today. It’s imperative that we get this bill signed into law without delay.” “This bill is good for jobs. It’s good for consumers. And it’s good for the environment,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). “This landmark legislation is the most meaningful and impactful update to issues involving environment and the economy that we’ve had in decades. And it will soon be law thanks to hard work and dedication. It’s a legislative achievement we can all be proud of.”  Watch Upton’s and Shimkus’ floor remarks here. To view a fact sheet on the bill, click here. For a summary of the compromise, click here. To read the text of the bill and text of the manager’s amendment, click here. ###  Read More

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