Bipartisan Legislation to Help Those With Autism, Trauma Patients, and Veterinarians Poised to Become Law
WASHINGTON, DC – Three public health bills championed by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health are now on their way to the president’s desk to become law. Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) commented, “The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, under the leadership of Chairman Pitts, has had a remarkable record of bipartisan success on important bills that truly touch and improve people’s lives.” These bills will boost Autism research and awareness, refine definitions of what constitutes trauma, and strengthen veterinarians’ ability to administer care in the field.
The Senate last night approved H.R. 4631, the Autism CARES Act which will extend the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011 to continue federal research, early identification and intervention, and education related to autism as well as the activities of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Community. The Senate also approved this week H.R. 3548, the Improving Trauma Care Act, authored by Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH), to amend the Public Health Service Act and improve the definition of trauma by including injuries caused by thermal, electrical, chemical, or radioactive force. The Senate also recently advanced, H.R. 1528, the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act which will allow veterinarians to administer care at a site other than their registered principal place of business.
These bills will make more than 20 legislative accomplishments to become law under the leadership of the Health Subcommittee this Congress.
WASHINGTON, DC – A bipartisan group of House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders today called on the Government Accountability Office to provide details about the management of pathogens at federal laboratories. The letter was signed by full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ).
The leaders write, “Recently, there have been several highly publicized reports of federal laboratories experiencing lapses in the management of dangerous pathogens, prompting concern that these incidents may not be isolated events. … It is vitally important to maintain biosafety and biosecurity protocols at federal laboratories that are designed to prevent unintentional exposure to pathogens or their accidental or intentional release because exposure to certain disease-causing pathogens can have serious and potentially lethal consequences for public health.”
The leaders request GAO to review the existing policies and procedures that federal agencies use in managing dangerous pathogens and how those agencies evaluate the effectiveness of those policies and procedures.
The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations recently held a hearing to review the recent safety lapses at the Centers for Disease Control.
Read the complete letter online here.
In Contrast to Administration, the Architecture of Abundance Vision Embraces America’s Potential as an Energy Superpower
America is in the midst of a new era of energy abundance, but we could be doing much better if we had the right policies in place. American Enterprise Institute scholar Mark Perry explains in a recent Investor’s Business Daily column that our welcome oil and gas boom has actually occurred in spite of President Obama’s policies, not because of them. Perry notes, “Production could have been even greater if the administration embraced America's new energy superpower status instead of being so hostile to the development of our fossil fuel resources.” Perry asserts the president is “neglecting America's new abundance of hydrocarbon resources” and “preventing the country from reaching its full economic potential,” noting what he described as the administration’s foot-dragging on LNG exports, refusal to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, and restrictive policies toward oil and gas production on federal lands. Perry also highlights that the president’s weak energy policy is “squandering millions of jobs that could be created from expanded energy production and the revitalization of U.S. manufacturing.”
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) recently unveiled a new energy vision that says #Yes2Energy, one that seeks to embrace our full energy and economic potential. It’s called Architecture of Abundance. By constructing new infrastructure and the right regulatory policies, we can seize the opportunity before us to create more jobs and fully unleash the benefits of our energy abundance. To learn more about the Architecture of Abundance visit: http://energycommerce.house.gov/yes2energy.
July 25, 2014
There’s A U.S. Energy Boom, No Thanks To Obama
It would be easy to look at the dramatic 35% increase in America's oil and natural gas production since President Obama took office and think the administration deserves much of the credit. But the energy boom has happened in spite of him.
Production could have been even greater if the administration embraced America's new energy superpower status instead of being so hostile to the development of our fossil fuel resources.
Since Obama took office, oil and gas production has soared on private and state land, for which he deserves little or no credit. Meanwhile, production on federal lands has dropped sharply due to a cutback in leasing of deepwater areas for energy development.
The U.S. government leases less than 2.2% of the energy-rich Outer Continental Shelf, and less than 6% of federal onshore lands. Offshore leasing is at half the level recorded during the Clinton administration, and its decline is indicative of Obama's hostility toward the oil and gas industry.
Nevertheless, thanks to drilling on private and state land, U.S. oil production is on pace to break a 42-year-old record next year.
When Obama was elected in 2008, U.S. oil production averaged 5 million barrels a day. In 2013, daily output averaged 7.4 million barrels, and is expected to climb to 8.5 million this year and 9.3 million in 2015, according to the Energy Information Administration.
Most of the recent growth has come from tight oil deposits in Texas and North Dakota. Those two states combined now produce more than 4 million barrels every day and supply almost half of America's total oil output.
Read the article online HERE.
GAO Confirms the Administration Knew HC.gov Was Not “On Track” for First Open Enrollment Period, Risks Remain for Next Year
WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), today held a hearing on the status of the implementation of the president’s health care law and examined what plagued its first open enrollment period. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) yesterday released a new report explaining how the administration’s poor management of implementation led to cost increases and the HealthCare.gov debacle. As full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) said, “Yesterday we learned that the price tag for HealthCare.gov is approaching $1 billion. We also learned that the administration’s poor management led to significant cost increases and an exchange that – now ten months after launch - is still not complete.”
William T. Woods, Director of Acquisition and Sourcing Management at GAO, regarding evidence that the administration knew the federally facilitated marketplace would only be 65 percent complete by October 1, 2013.
Murphy recalled the numerous occasions that CMS officials, including the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight Director Gary Cohen and CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, testified at the Energy and Commerce Committee under oath that implementation was “on track.” Cohen testified just days before the launch of the website: “Consumers will be able to go online, they will be able to get a determination of what tax subsidies they are eligible for, they will be able to look at the plans that are available where they live, they will be able to see the premium net of subsidy that they would have to pay, and they will be able to choose a plan and get enrolled in coverage beginning October 1.” Woods did note that he was not aware of what Cohen or Tavenner knew prior to their testimony.
Andy Slavitt, Principal Deputy Administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, added that the “GAO report wasn’t news to people at CMS.”
Even more troubling, GAO testified that “Unless CMS improves contract management and adheres to a structured governance process, significant risks remain that upcoming enrollment periods could encounter challenges.”
In answering questions from Murphy, Slavitt testified that the 2015 enrollment period, “won’t be perfect … there will clearly be bumps.”
Slavitt also confirmed to Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Vice Chairman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) that the vital backend of the exchanges is still incomplete, despite the website having launched 10 months ago.
Despite the president repeatedly promising, “We’ll lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year,” reports confirm that premiums have already skyrocketed for Americans across the country, and as health care premiums for next year are being finalized, it’s clear costs could rise even higher. The Los Angeles Times highlighted Tuesday’s announcement by California’s Democratic Insurance Commissioner that premiums have soared, reporting, “The cost of health insurance for individuals skyrocketed this year in California, with some paying almost twice what they did last year, the state’s insurance commissioner said. …Jones said individuals this year paid between 22% and 88% more for individual health insurance policies than they did last year … The hardest-hit were young people.”
In Louisiana, the Centre Daily Times reports that costs will continue to rise. “The state’s largest insurer says close to 45,000 Louisiana policyholders could see the rates for their health coverage jump anywhere from 10 percent to nearly 20 percent next year, and the Affordable Care Act is a major reason.” Business Insider adds, “Insurance companies operating in New York State’s marketplace are expected to ask for double-digit premium hikes next year, according to new filings from the companies.”
July 29, 2014
Health Premiums Soared, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones Says
The cost of health insurance for individuals skyrocketed this year in California, with some paying almost twice what they did last year, the state's insurance commissioner said. …
At a news conference Tuesday, Jones said individuals this year paid between 22% and 88% more for individual health insurance policies than they did last year, depending on age, gender, type of policy and where they lived.
The increases did not affect poor people, whose policies are heavily subsidized, Jones said. The study results released Tuesday did not include group policies such as those offered by employers.
Jones said he authorized the study of health insurance rates after receiving numerous complaints about rising costs. ...
The rate increase from 2013 to 2014, on average, was significantly higher than rate increases in the past," Jones said.
The hardest-hit were young people, he said. In one region of Los Angeles County, people age 25 paid 52% more for a silver plan than they had for a similar plan the year before, while someone age 55 paid 38% more, Jones said. ...
Read the article online
July 30, 2014
Hikes Sought in Health Coverage Rates
The state's largest insurer says close to 45,000 Louisiana policyholders could see the rates for their health coverage jump anywhere from 10 percent to nearly 20 percent next year, and the Affordable Care Act is a major reason.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana accounts for the bulk of those individual policies, which people buy directly from an insurance company rather than through their employer. ...
Read the article online HERE.
July 3, 2014
New York Healthcare Premiums Are About to Explode
Insurance companies operating in New York State's marketplace are expected to ask for double-digit premium hikes next year, according to new filings from the companies.
Capital New York reports the average requested increase was 13%. The New York Post reports that number at about 12%. But the bigger insurers are seeking a bigger premium hike — according to Capital, the six most popular plans in New York are requesting an average increase of almost 15%. …
Read the article online HERE.
WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Leaders today opened an investigation into the Federal Communications Commission’s decision-making process ahead of granting a waiver of auction rules to Grain Management LLC. Bloomberg News broke the story that the waiver would permit Grain to circumvent commission rules designed to ensure the independence of small businesses that receive bidding credits in FCC auctions.
In a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA), write, “ The Energy and Commerce Committee is committed to conducting vigorous oversight to ensure that Commission processes are fair, open, and transparent, and that they serve the public interest. The granting of the Grain Management waiver raises questions about these processes.”
The leaders have requested documents from the commission related to the following questions by August 15, 2014.
To read the letter online, click here.
WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Committee today added to its #RecordOfSuccess by approving seven bills in the health and telecommunications sectors.
“This committee has worked to advance three primary goals of promoting job creation and economic growth, transforming Washington to create a smaller, modernized government for the innovation era, and protecting families, communities, and civic initiatives. We have enjoyed great bipartisan success, with over sixty bills through the House, and over 15 public laws. Just this week, three more bills passed the House, and two of our bills are currently awaiting the president’s signature. But our work is not done, and with this markup, we build upon our record of results as we consider seven bills,” said full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI).
Chairman Upton delivers his opening statement at the full committee markup.
Full committee Chairman Emeritus Joe Barton (R-TX) discusses H.R. 3670, the Anti-Spoofing Act of 2013, a bill he authored with Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY) and committee member Leonard Lance (R-NJ).
This bipartisan bill will protect consumers against fraudulent actors and deceptive text messages by updating the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009, which prohibits entities from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information.
H.R. 3670 was approved, as amended, by a voice vote.
H.R. 5161, the E-LABEL Act, was authored by Communications and Technology Subcommittee Vice Chairman Bob Latta (R-OH), full committee Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), and subcommittee Ranking Member Anna Eshoo (D-CA).
The E-LABEL Act reduces regulatory burdens faced by electronics manufacturers. It removes the requirement that electronic devices contain a physical label to detail information required by the FCC and gives manufacturers the option of providing labeling information on the screen of the device.
H.R. 5161 was approved by a voice vote.
Communications and Technology Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) discusses H.R. 1575, the Kelsey Smith Act, authored by Reps. Kevin Yoder (R-KS), committee member Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), and Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO).
The Kelsey Smith Act requires telecommunications carriers to share call location data with law enforcement when it is necessary to respond to an emergency call or in an emergency situation where a person’s life may be in danger.
H.R. 1575 was approved as amended, by a voice vote.
Committee staff note the passage H.R. 4067, a bill authored by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) that would help ensure patients, including Medicare patients and those in rural communities, have access to the health care they need.
H.R. 4067 was approved by voice vote.
Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) speaks in support of his bill, H.R. 5214, which requires the HHS Secretary to publish specific recommendations for the development of clinical data registries.
H.R. 5214 was approved by a voice vote.
Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) discusses H.R. 4701, the Tick-Borne Disease Research Accountability and Transparency Act, introduced by Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY).
The bill addresses the growing threat of Lyme Disease and establishes a working group to review federal activities at the Department of Health and Human Services related to Lyme and tick-borne diseases.
H.R. 4701 was approved as amended, by a voice vote.
Dr. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) discusses his bill H.R. 3522, the Employee Health Care Protection Act.
This bill protects Americans from another broken health care promise. It would enable Americans who purchase health care in the group market to keep their health care plans if they desire.
H.R. 3522 was approved by a vote of 27-20.
To view the legislation, amendments, and final votes, click here.
E&C Members Rally for Jobs, Say #Yes2Energy
Advocates for affordable energy and American jobs put on a full-court press this week to fight against EPA’s destructive proposed plan to take over states’ electricity systems and shut down the nation’s coal industry. As the administration continues to tout its Clean Power Plan as an opportunity for “investment,” members of the Energy and Commerce Committee are standing up to expose the cold hard truth about how EPA’s new power plant rule will drive up electricity rates and send U.S. jobs overseas while doing nothing to change the weather or the global climate.
Members of the committee joined Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other members of Congress today at a rally in support of coal’s jobs and energy. The members were joined by singer Jimmy Rose who sang his hit “Coal Keeps The Lights On,” which speaks to the importance of coal to communities across the country and the harmful effects of the Obama administration’s regulatory policies on American workers and their families.
Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL), who highlighted Jimmy Rose’s song last year on the House floor, spoke at today’s rally and stood up for coal communities left abandoned by this administration. He exclaimed, “This is an attack on not just a current way of life, but a heritage that has made this country great. ... It’s intentional. It’s planned. And it’s a direct assault on coal mining areas and, really, low-cost power in this country.”
Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) added, “Coal has kept the lights on in America, and coal has provided the energy for America’s innovation for generations. It’s affordable. It’s reliable. … This is not about politics. It’s not even about failed policies … This is about hard-working Americans who get up every day wondering how they are going to make it another day because of what is going on in Washington, D.C.”
Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) also attended today’s rally and questioned EPA’s legal authority to overhaul our energy industry and shut down the nation’s coal plants. Griffith declared, “Let me tell you something else when they say there is not a war on coal. Ask the EPA: Where is their authority for these new regulations under the Clean Air Act? … This is not about policy, but it is about the administration’s war on coal. We must win this war for the people of America.”
Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) traveled today to EPA’s headquarters to testify at a public hearing and described the negative consequences of the agency’s proposed rule for American families and our economy. “Obama and his EPA have shown a callous disregard for hardworking Americans they are hurting with excessive regulations. These families are not just statistics, they are people. They are husbands and wives, moms and dads, neighbors and friends. … Of course, we all want clean air. But we need to achieve it in a way that doesn’t impose a crushing cost on hardworking American families. The impact will be felt far beyond West Virginia and other coal producing areas. We’re just the front lines,” said McKinley. “The increased cost of electricity will be borne by those who can least afford it – seniors on a fixed income and low income families. It will make American manufacturers even less competitive. This will lead to more good paying jobs going off shore to other countries where they’re burning coal.”
The Energy and Power Subcommittee held a hearing on Tuesday with the Commissioners of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to examine some of the implementation challenges associated with EPA’s Clean Power Plan. FERC Commissioners expressed great concerns over the potential of EPA’s plan to raise energy costs and reduce electric reliability.
Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) echoed these concerns and stated, “I find EPA’s proposed efforts dictating electricity usage to be troubling. This is an area where the reach of the federal government has been limited, and for good reason since these local resource decisions are best left to states… Most of all, I am very concerned what this proposed rule would do to electricity costs for consumers and for job-creating businesses.”
And full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) expressed anxiety over EPA’s potential to diminish energy diversity, stating, “Maintaining a diverse energy portfolio is a core component of this committee’s vision for America’s energy future – a vision we call the Architecture of Abundance. … Maintaining diversity – both diversity in our electricity generation portfolio as well as a diversity of strategies for meeting a state’s electricity needs – is critical to affordable and reliable energy. But EPA’s top-down Clean Power Plan will give us less of both kinds of diversity.”
The Energy and Commerce Committee will continue to fight for a true “all-of-the-above” energy portfolio that allows coal to remain a viable part of America’s energy future. We are saying yes to coal, yes to jobs, and #Yes2Energy.
GAO and CMS to Testify TOMORROW at 9:15 AM
The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), will hold a hearing, PPACA Implementation: Updates from CMS and GAO, tomorrow at 9:15 a.m. Subcommittee members will review a forthcoming Government Accountability Office report on the implementation of the president’s health care law. As The AP summarizes, the report found, “management failures by the Obama administration set the stage for the computer woes that paralyzed the president’s new health care program last fall.” Testimony prepared by the GAO also found that the backend of the health care exchange will not be complete until December 2014.
Full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) commented, "As the cost of the exchange closes in on a billion dollars, even to this day the system is not fully built. The disastrous implementation of the president’s health care law has already led to canceled plans, lost access to doctors, and higher premiums. Now add to that hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars wasted on an exchange that is still not ready for prime time.”
Murphy added, "The Obama administration was not up to the job, and American taxpayers are now paying the price. Despite repeated assurances to our committee that everything was 'on track' - it turns out it was on track to disaster. We have many questions tomorrow, but will the administration finally have answers on how we got into this near billion dollar mess?”
Subcommittee members will also question the Government Accountability Office and Andy Slavitt, the Principal Deputy Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, on the status of implementation and building the still-incomplete backend. You can watch the hearing live online here tomorrow at 9:15 a.m.
July 30, 2014
Probe Exposes Flaws Behind HealthCare.gov Rollout
Management failures by the Obama administration set the stage for the computer woes that paralyzed the president's new health care program last fall, nonpartisan investigators said in testimony released Wednesday.
After a months-long investigation, the Government Accountability Office found that the administration lacked "effective planning or oversight practices" for the development of HealthCare.gov, the online portal to coverage for millions of uninsured Americans.
As a result the government incurred "significant cost increases, schedule slips, and delayed functionality," William Woods, a GAO contracting expert said in testimony prepared for a hearing Thursday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
GAO is the nonpartisan investigative agency of Congress. Its full report is also expected Thursday.
Investigators found that the administration kept changing the contractors' marching orders for the HealthCare.gov website, creating widespread confusion and leading to tens of millions of dollars in additional costs. Changes were ordered in seemingly willy-nilly fashion, including 40 times when government officials did not have the formal authority to incur additional costs.
The report faults the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services — for ineffective oversight of contracts for HealthCare.gov's computerized sign-up system and its electronic back office. The Medicare agency, known as CMS, was designated to administer Obama's health care law. …
Read the article online HERE.
WASHINGTON, DC – The House of Representatives this week approved three more of the committee’s bipartisan public health bills, building on a strong record of success. These bills will streamline and update the approval process for new sunscreen ingredients, help the Muscular Dystrophy community, and help combat the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse. Each of these bills was passed by a voice vote.
Committee members Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) authored H.R. 4250, the Sunscreen Innovation Act, to establish a more efficient review process to ensure quicker FDA approval of new sunscreen ingredients, while maintaining strict safety standards. “This past April, the Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on the Sunscreen Innovation Act where all of the expert witnesses, including the FDA, were in agreement that the current approval process is broken and in need of reform,” said Whitfield. “So the objective of the Sunscreen Innovation Act is twofold - first, to expedite the review of pending applications at FDA and second, to create a timely and transparent process for new applications to be reviewed and acted on. The framework outlined in this legislation strikes an appropriate balance between consumer safety and access to the very best sunscreen product.”
Full Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) added, “Unfortunately, advancements in sunscreen have failed to keep pace with the increased awareness of the harm overexposure to the sun can cause. We have had great success at the Energy and Commerce Committee this Congress with over a dozen public health bills already signed into law. I am confident this commonsense bill, which received unanimous support at the committee, will soon be a part of our strong record of results. The American people will be better for it.”
H.R. 594, the Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Community Assistance, Research and Education Amendments of 2014, introduced by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), updates surveillance, research, and education activities to reflect scientific developments and continue the support of research and patient support initiatives across all forms of Muscular Dystrophy. “Since 2001 this law has successfully changed the lives of families impacted by all forms of Muscular Dystrophy. It has coordinated and focused federal biomedical research on 9 forms of Muscular Dystrophy, developed epidemiologic data, and created patient care guidelines,” said Burgess. “And here’s the good news, it has made a real difference.”
H.R. 4709, the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2014, addresses the growing problem of prescription drug abuse while ensuring patient access to necessary medications. Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) explained, “H.R. 4709 will improve enforcement efforts regarding the complex and challenging problem of prescription drug diversion and abuse. It will ensure patient access to necessary medications by creating a more collaborative partnership between drug manufacturers, wholesalers, retail pharmacies, and federal enforcement and oversight agencies such as DEA and the FDA.”
Full Committee Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), an original sponsor of H.R. 4709, added, “Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic that is killing tens of thousands of Americans each year. It is a problem that is in great need of a solution. That is why I worked with my colleagues Tom Marino, Peter Welch and Judy Chu, in sponsoring this bipartisan legislation to facilitate greater collaboration between industry stakeholders and regulators in our nation’s effort to combat prescription drug abuse, while also ensuring that patients who need medication are able to receive it. Simply acknowledging the epidemic of prescription drug abuse isn’t enough. Congress has a responsibility to make sure the law is crystal clear for both DEA and legitimate businesses who want to understand what the rules are so they can do the right thing. That is why I am so pleased the House has acted today on our legislation that seeks to ensure the prescription drug supply chain is safe and secure for the patients that truly rely upon it to alleviate pain and treat illnesses.”
2125 Rayburn HOB
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