Energy and Commerce

Committee on Energy and Commerce

Greg Walden

Examining FDA’s Generic Drug and Biosimilar User Fee Programs

2017/03/02


Ways to Improve and Strengthen the International Anti-Doping System

2017/02/28


HEARING: #SubHealth to Look at User Fees NEXT WEEK

2017/02/23

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), announced a hearing for Thursday, March 2, 2017, at 10 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled, “Examining FDA’s Generic Drug and Biosimilar User Fee Programs.” Both the Generic Drug User Fee Amendments of 2012 (GDUFA) and the Biosimilar User Fee Act of 2012 (BsUFA) expire in September 2017, and must be reauthorized for the Fiscal Years 2018-2022. GDUFA was enacted with the goal of significantly improving the timeliness and consistency of the generic drug review process and clearing the growing backlog of applications pending at FDA. BsUFA was enacted to support the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ability to work with companies in the nascent biosimilar industry and ultimately bring these important products to market in a safe and expeditious manner. The FDA and other relevant stakeholders will provide testimony on how the programs have been implemented to date and present recommendations pertaining to their reauthorization. The subcommittee will also consider H.R. 749, the Lower Drug Costs Through Competition Act, bipartisan legislation to increase competition in the pharmaceutical industry.   “Next week’s hearing on user fee agreements will be an important discussion as we continue to work toward facilitating review and approval of life-saving and life-improving drugs, while also promoting innovation and job creation,” said Chairman Burgess. “These initiatives, as well as ensuring patients are able to receive quality, affordable, and timely care are a top priority for this Congress.” The Majority Memorandum, witness list, and witness testimony for the hearing will be available here as they are posted. ### Read More

GOLD MEDAL LINEUP: Tuesday Hearing on Anti-Doping Brings Together All-Star Panel

2017/02/23

#SubOversight has set the stage for its anti-doping hearing. The hearing will explore the international anti-doping system, including the challenges it faces and what improvements can be made. Confirmed witnesses for the Tuesday hearing include: Mr. Michael Phelps, American swimmer and Olympic gold medalist Mr. Adam Nelson, American shot putter and Olympic gold medalist Mr. Travis Tygart, Chief Executive Officer, United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) Mr. Rob Koehler, Deputy Director General, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Dr. Richard Budgett, Medical and Scientific Director, International Olympic Committee (IOC) [[{"fid":"2329","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"66","width":"288","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] February 22, 2017 Michael Phelps among five expected to testify about anti-doping Michael Phelps will be among five people testifying about anti-doping before a congressional subcommittee next week. The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, which is part of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, will hold a hearing, “Ways to Improve and Strengthen the Anti-Doping System,” on Tuesday morning. Among others expected to testify are: Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency; Richard Budgett, medical and scientific director for the International Olympic Committee; Rob Koehler, deputy director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency; and Adam Nelson, American shot putter and Olympic gold medalist. "For centuries, the Olympic Games have been a source of inspiration and pride, bringing nations and cultures together in the spirit of competition. In recent years, however, the specter of doping has reemerged, tarnishing the image of the games and raising new questions about the fairness of international sport,” Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) said in a joint statement. “Next week’s hearing marks an important conversation with some key players to examine the international anti-doping system and identify ways we can strengthen it to ensure clean, competitive sport.” Phelps retired after the Rio Olympics as the most decorated Olympian of all time, winning 28 medals in five Games. Nelson received his shot put gold medal from the 2004 Olympics more than a decade after those Games. He initially was awarded the silver medal but received gold after Ukraine's Yuriy Bilonoh was stripped of his title for a doping violation in 2013. … To read the full article online, click HERE. ###   Read More

Obamacare’s Individual Mandate: A Resounding Failure

2017/02/23

Under Obamacare, there’s a new class of uninsured, and it begins with those choosing to pay the individual mandate penalty instead of buying government-ordered health care. In 2015, 19.2 million taxpayers elected to pay the mandate penalty or claim a hardship exemption. It’s true: 6.5 million individuals paid the penalty while an additional 12.7 claimed a hardship exemption, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In contrast, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that 10.4 million individuals enrolled in an Obamacare exchange plan through the first half of 2016. But that’s not the whole story. The individual mandate is also failing to move younger, healthier Americans to buy health insurance, which is contributing to Obamacare’s “death spiral.” Of those taxpayers sidestepping the individual mandate, 45 percent of them were under the age of 35. Obamacare’s one-size-fits-all mandates and fines aren’t working. There’s A Better Way to provide all Americans access to quality, affordable health care. [[{"fid":"2324","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"648","width":"453","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] ### Read More

#SubOversight Announces Details for Anti-Doping Hearing

2017/02/23

WASHINGTON, DC – Earlier this week, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), announced a hearing for Tuesday, February 28, 2017, on the international anti-doping system. Following last summer’s Olympics in Rio and ahead of the winter Olympics in PyeongChang next year, the subcommittee will examine the current state of the international anti-doping system, challenges it faces, and ways it can be improved. Confirmed witnesses include: Mr. Michael Phelps, American swimmer and Olympic gold medalist Mr. Adam Nelson, American shot putter and Olympic gold medalist Mr. Travis Tygart, Chief Executive Officer, United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) Mr. Rob Koehler, Deputy Director General, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Dr. Richard Budgett, Medical and Scientific Director, International Olympic Committee (IOC) The Majority Memorandum and witness testimony for the hearing will be available here as they are posted. Read More

HEARING: #SubOversight to Examine Anti-Doping NEXT WEEK

2017/02/21

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), announced a hearing for Tuesday, February 28, 2017, at 10:15 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled, “Ways to Improve and Strengthen the Anti-Doping System.” Following last summer’s Olympics in Rio and ahead of the winter Olympics in PyeongChang next year, the subcommittee will examine the current state of the international anti-doping system, challenges it faces, and ways it can be improved. “The Olympic Games represent the greatest athletes in the world, and we want to preserve the integrity of competition, and ensure clean sport,” said Chairman Murphy. “This will be an important discussion to protect the revered distinction both the Olympics Games and their world class athletes hold.” The Majority Memorandum, witness list, and witness testimony for the hearing will be available here as they are posted. ### Read More

Letter to EPA Acting Administrator McCabe Requesting a 120-Day Extension to EPA's Proposed Rule

2017/02/21

Excerpt: “The rulemaking docket has quadrupled since the Proposed Rule’s publication date and now contains over 2,300 technical documents to support the Proposed Rule. It is obvious that the 60-day comment period set by EPA is wholly inadequate to evaluate the proposal and the voluminous supporting information and to prepare meaningful public comments.” To read the letter, click here. Read More

Committee Leaders Request a 120-Day Extension to EPA’s Proposed Rule

2017/02/21

WASHINGTON, DC – On Friday, February 17, 2017, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) sent a letter to Acting Administrator McCabe at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting an extension to the comment period for the proposed rule, “Financial Responsibility Requirements Under CERCLA §108(b) for Classes of Facilities in the Hardrock Mining Industry,” that was published in the Federal Register on January 11, 2017. Given the complexity and length of the proposed rule- and its considerable impact on the mining industry – committee leaders are asking that the EPA grant a 120-day extension of the public comment period to at least July 10, 2017. EPA’s Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) for the proposed rule estimates the financial impact of this rule to be over $7.1 billion dollars and requires the mining industry to incur up to $171 million dollars per year in new financial assurance costs. Despite the complexity of this rule, and the lack of information sought from or provided to stakeholders in preparation of the proposal, EPA has only provided a 60-day comment period, which is currently slated to end on March 13, 2017. In the letter, Walden, Bishop, and Shuster relay, “…The Proposed Rule is a significant rulemaking that will have a considerable impact on the mining industry.” The committee leaders note that the proposed rule is extremely technical, the rulemaking docket contains over 200,000 documents, and the proposal includes a complex statistical model that EPA developed to calculate financial assurance obligations and that despite Congressional requests, EPA declined to share critical information about the development of the model. Chairmen Walden, Bishop, and Shuster also state, “The rulemaking docket has quadrupled since the Proposed Rule’s publication date and now contains over 2,300 technical documents to support the Proposed Rule. It is obvious that the 60-day comment period set by EPA is wholly inadequate to evaluate the proposal and the voluminous supporting information and to prepare meaningful public comments.” Finally adding, “While we recognize the importance of financial assurance, we are especially concerned about the transparency of the process and that EPA failed to adequately seek public input during preparation of the Proposed Rule and in particular, the statistical model.” Read the letter online HERE.   Read More

Bipartisan Group of House and Senate Committee Leaders: “Vaccines Save Lives”

2017/02/21

WASHINGTON, DC – A bipartisan group of Senate and House health committee leaders today sent colleagues a letter to highlight the importance of immunizations, saying: “Vaccines save lives.” “The introduction of vaccines was a turning point in our country’s public health history.  Vaccines led to the elimination of certain diseases, including polio and measles, from the United States,” write House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Gene Green (D-TX), and Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA). “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), before introduction of the polio vaccine in the United States, polio caused more than 16,000 cases of paralysis and nearly 2,000 deaths each year, on average.   Similarly, before the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1963, almost all children got measles by the age of 15, with up to 4 million Americans infected each year, according to the CDC.  Measles is a highly contagious, airborne virus that can cause serious respiratory illness and life-threatening complications in children, such as pneumonia, ear infections, and even lifelong brain damage or deafness.   In 2000, as a result of a vaccine, the CDC declared measles to be eliminated in the United States,” they wrote in the letter to each of their Senate and House colleagues. The letter concludes: “Vaccines are our first line of defense against infectious diseases, many of which have no treatment or can be life-threatening. As medical research continues to advance, and scientists discover new medical breakthroughs and cutting-edge ways to treat disease and save lives, it is critical to recognize the importance of protecting public health against vaccine-preventable diseases. The science is clear: FDA-licensed vaccines are proven to be safe and effective, and save the lives both of those who receive them and vulnerable individuals around them.  As Members of Congress, we have a critical role to play in supporting the availability and use of vaccines to protect Americans from deadly diseases.” The full text of the letter is below and online here: February 21, 2017 Dear Colleagues, We write to you today to highlight the importance of immunizations, which protect Americans, especially infants and children, against outbreaks of serious and deadly infectious diseases. Vaccines save lives. The introduction of vaccines was a turning point in our country’s public health history.  Vaccines led to the elimination of certain diseases, including polio and measles, from the United States.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), before introduction of the polio vaccine in the United States, polio caused more than 16,000 cases of paralysis and nearly 2,000 deaths each year, on average.  Similarly, before the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1963, almost all children got measles by the age of 15, with up to 4 million Americans infected each year, according to the CDC.  Measles is a highly contagious, airborne virus that can cause serious respiratory illness and life-threatening complications in children, such as pneumonia, ear infections, and even lifelong brain damage or deafness.   In 2000, as a result of a vaccine, the CDC declared measles to be eliminated in the United States.   The pertussis vaccine is yet another example: Pertussis, also known as “whooping cough,” is a bacterial infection that can be life-threatening in infants and young children, especially in children under one year, causing half of them to be hospitalized.   The pertussis vaccine provides protection against the illness even among newborns who receive protective antibodies when their mother is vaccinated. Yet, already this year, states and communities around the country have reported outbreaks of measles, mumps, and whooping cough.  The reasons for each outbreak vary, but we know that there are increasing trends around the country that have led to lower vaccination rates in some communities, allowing outbreaks of infectious diseases to take hold with increasing frequency.   In 2014, for example, the United States had 667 measles cases in 27 states—a record high since the CDC declared the disease eliminated from the U.S. in 2000.  These outbreaks have affected too many children and families, and they have presented unique challenges to doctors and health care providers—many of whom have only read about such illnesses in textbooks—as well as to the public health officials who seek to control outbreaks in each of our states. The reemergence of vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States presents a public health threat, especially for those who rely on “herd immunity,” which means protection from disease through the vaccination of those around you.  Herd immunity protects vulnerable individuals who cannot be vaccinated, including children who may be too young to receive a vaccination or those who have medical conditions.  Herd immunity lessens the opportunity for an outbreak because it ensures a large portion of a community is immunized against a contagious disease. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plays a critical role in rigorously reviewing vaccines and ensuring they are safe and effective, based on extensive testing.  After FDA approval of vaccines, the CDC, based on expert advice from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, may provide recommendations for immunization schedules designed to protect individuals in the United States, including infants and children, and those most vulnerable to life-threatening diseases.  These schedules are safe and approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.   All 50 states have laws regarding immunization requirements for certain vaccines for children, with varying exemptions for medical, religious, or personal beliefs.  Vaccines are our first line of defense against infectious diseases, many of which have no treatment or can be life-threatening. As medical research continues to advance, and scientists discover new medical breakthroughs and cutting-edge ways to treat disease and save lives, it is critical to recognize the importance of protecting public health against vaccine-preventable diseases. The science is clear: FDA-licensed vaccines are proven to be safe and effective, and save the lives both of those who receive them and vulnerable individuals around them.  As Members of Congress, we have a critical role to play in supporting the availability and use of vaccines to protect Americans from deadly diseases. We hope that you will consider the sound scientific information available, the public health challenges of disease outbreaks, and the successful examples of infectious disease prevention.  Simply put, vaccines save lives.  For additional information about vaccines, please have your staff contact members of our staff or refer to these evidence-based sources of information: CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/index.html; or U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://www.vaccines.gov/. Sincerely, Lamar Alexander Patty Murray Greg Walden    Frank Pallone, Jr. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. Gene Green ### Read More

Bicameral Letter on Importance of Vaccines

2017/02/21

Excerpt: "Vaccines are our first line of defense against infectious diseases, many of which have no treatment or can be life-threatening. As medical research continues to advance, and scientists discover new medical breakthroughs and cutting-edge ways to treat disease and save lives, it is critical to recognize the importance of protecting public health against vaccine-preventable diseases." To read a copy of the letter, click here. Read More

DIGITAL RECAP: The Best 9

2017/02/17

The Energy and Commcerce Committee kicked the week off with a strategic planning session to present ideas and policy goals across all six subcommittees. As the week progressed, the committee held hearings on a range of topics including the benefits of self-driving cars, how to modernize our nation's energy infrastructure, and the need to revamp outdated environmental laws. Scroll down to view our best photos and videos of the week. For more updates on the committee’s activities, be sure to follow us on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. [[{"fid":"2311","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"360","width":"480","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]] Representatives Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Chris Collins (R-NY), Leonard Lanc(R-NJ), Bill Johnson (R-OH), and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) flip through their E&C packets during Monday's Strategic Planning Session.   [[{"fid":"2312","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"390","width":"480","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]] Prior to the start of Tuesday’s Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee hearing, Chairman Bob Latta (R-OH) spoke about what audiences can expect #SubDCCP to explore this Congress. Click here to watch the video.   [[{"fid":"2313","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"320","width":"480","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]] During a Tuesday press conference with Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI), and other members of House Leadership, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) discussed how the House is working to repeal Obamacare and rebuild our health care system.   [[{"fid":"2314","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"430","width":"480","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]] During his first #SubDCCP hearing, Chairman Latta listens in as new E&C member Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA) asks questions of the witnesses regarding the timeline for deployment of self-driving vehicles to market.   [[{"fid":"2315","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"383","width":"480","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]] This week, the committee held two hearings to explore how to make American energy safe and  modernize outdated laws.   [[{"fid":"2316","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"320","width":"480","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]] Ahead of Wednesday’s Energy Subcommittee hearing on modernizing the nation’s energy infrastructure, Reps. Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Richard Hudson (R-NC) chuckle before the gavel drops.   [[{"fid":"2317","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"320","width":"480","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]] Witnesses from Thursday’s #SubEnvironment hearing listen to Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) as he taps the gavel to begin the hearing.   [[{"fid":"2318","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"320","width":"480","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]] Chairman Shimkus readies his notes and shares a laugh with Ranking Member Paul Tonko (D-NY) before the first #SubEnvironment hearing of the year.   [[{"fid":"2319","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"454","width":"480","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]] This week, Chairman Walden introduced a bill to protect patients with pre-existing conditions. “This is the first step toward keeping our commitment to protecting vulnerable patients from being treated unfairly,” said Walden. Click here to learn why this legislation is so important. Read More

Walden & Shimkus on Pruitt’s Confirmation to Head EPA

2017/02/17

WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Environment Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL), today issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Scott Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. We’d first like to congratulate Mr. Pruitt on his appointment to head the EPA,” said Walden and Shimkus. “Administrator Pruitt understands the challenges states may face in implementing complex federal environmental requirements, and the importance of cooperation between states and the EPA in carrying out our nation’s environmental laws. We look forward to working with him as we consider potential legislation to modernize our environmental laws in order to protect public health and our environment while also ensuring we have a strong and thriving economy.” Read More

Walden Introduces Bill to Protect Patients with Pre-Existing Conditions

2017/02/16

WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), along with 42 cosponsors, today introduced H.R. 1121, the Pre-Existing Conditions Protection Act of 2017. Chairman Walden first signaled his intent to introduce the bill while speaking with CNN’s Jake Tapper in January. The bill introduced today reflects feedback from the patient community. “The push to rebuild our health care system is all about patients, which is why we are making this commitment to protect patients living with pre-existing conditions – it’s only fair,” said Chairman Walden. “House Republicans are committed to patient-centered reforms that increase access to quality, affordable care and guarantee that all Americans are protected from unfair, higher premium costs simply due to how healthy or sick they may be.” The Pre-Existing Conditions Protection Act aims to reaffirm guaranteed health care access, ensure that enrollees cannot have benefits excluded from a plan due to a pre-existing condition, and that patients will not pay more based on their health care status. “This is the first step toward keeping our commitment to protecting vulnerable patients from being treated unfairly. As we continue to repeal and replace Obamacare, it is my goal to send a clear message to patients: your concerns have been heard, and we are fighting for you,” Chairman Walden added. This bill is a continuation of the step-by-step process to rebuild our health care system. The Energy and Commerce Committee will continue to advance solutions to protect patients, stabilize health care markets, and promote continuous coverage incentives to help Americans get – and keep – coverage. Click HERE to read a copy of the bill. ### Read More

Burgess on House Passage of Resolution to Strike Midnight Rule Hampering States’ Rights on Title X Funding

2017/02/16

WASHINGTON, DC – Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) today issued the following statement after House passage of H.Res. 43, a resolution disapproving of the Obama administration’s rule limiting state choices on Title X funding. “In the final hours of the Obama administration, a rule was pushed through that dramatically reduced states' authority to allocate Title X funding as they see fit. In our ongoing effort to rebuild our health care system, there’s a central theme – that states know how to best care for their people. We believe that states have the right to choose the health care providers that best serve the needs of their local communities and the Obama administration’s rule undermines that critical authority.” ### Read More

#SubEnvironment Takes a Look at Modernizing Environmental Laws

2017/02/16

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Environment, chaired by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), today held a hearing examining challenges and opportunities for expanding infrastructure, economic redevelopment, and manufacturing through the modernization of certain environmental laws that fall under the subcommittee’s jurisdiction, including the Clean Air Act and the Brownfields provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. “The topic today reflects what is going to be one of the themes of our legislative work this Congress,” said Chairman Shimkus. “And that is to identify the best ways to modernize the statutes within our jurisdiction in ways that deliver effective, environmental protections and remove unnecessary barriers to expand economic opportunity in communities around the nation.”  [[{"fid":"2305","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"240","width":"361","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] Witnesses Set to Testify at Today’s #SubEnvironment Hearing Ross Eisenberg, Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers, urged members to update our environmental laws, stating, “These statutes were written four to five decades ago, and their drafters could not possibly have envisioned how best to tackle the environmental challenges of the 21st century. As a result, regulators are increasingly unable to adapt stringent programs to the progress that has been made and easily reshape them on their own to confront new environmental challenges.” Mayor Jonathan Mitchell of New Bedford, Massachusetts, spoke to the importance of Brownfields redevelopment, commenting, “Brownfields redevelopment is a win-win for everyone involved. It creates jobs, it cleans up the environment, and it’s pro-business and pro-community. The reauthorization of this law should be a top priority for this Congress and I urge you to pass a reauthorization bill and appropriate the necessary funds to jump start the development in communities throughout the nation.” Thomas Sullivan, Vice President of Small Business Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, discussed the importance of soliciting the input of small businesses when it comes to rulemaking at the federal level. Mr. Sullivan stated, “Whether it is reauthorizing a new law, creating a new agency, or when agencies craft new regulations, government is well advised to solicit input and work with small businesses to devise solutions that maximize the law’s or regulation’s benefits and minimize harmful economic impact.” Kevin Sunday, Director of Government Affairs at the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, stated, “Air quality issues present a particular challenge for industry. The current construct under the Clean Air Act unnecessarily inhibits investment and expansion of facilities. Hundreds, if not thousands, of man-hours and untold sums of capital are required to secure initial permits and ensure on-going compliance, consuming an ever-increasing share of companies’ budgets that could otherwise be spent in expanding the workforce or investing in research and development.” “We have enormous opportunities to make meaningful improvements in our environmental laws and regulations. We can join the twin engines of modern science and common sense and produce better public health and a better economy,” said full committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR). “To begin delivering clear results, we must craft policies that will expand our infrastructure and help accelerate innovation and investment and spur manufacturing growth. Doing this will ultimately benefit American consumers."  [[{"fid":"2307","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"210","width":"315","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] Subcommittee Chairman Shimkus Shares a Laugh Ahead of Today’s Hearing Subcommittee Chairman Shimkus concluded, “And so as we look at how to modernize environmental laws we should always keep in mind the intangible good that comes from enabling people to have the economic wherewithal to live healthier and safer lives. … In today’s modern economy, it makes no sense that we cannot have more efficient permitting processes or more timely guidance from regulatory agencies.” A background memo, witness testimony, and an archived webcast of today’s hearing can be found on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s website HERE. For a summary and links to the committee's Clean Air Act hearings, legislation, and oversight during the 112th-114th Congresses, click HERE.  ###  Read More

Modernizing Environmental Laws: Challenges and Opportunities for Expanding Infrastructure and Promoting Development and Manufacturing

2017/02/16

[[{"fid":"2285","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full"},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full"}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"alt":"Modernizing Environmental Laws","height":"380","width":"640","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] Read More

Obamacare’s Death Spiral Continues to Leave Insurers Guessing on Future of Marketplaces

2017/02/16

Fresh off the heels of Humana’s decision to leave the Obamacare marketplace in 2018, Aetna categorized the status of the health care law as being in a “death spiral.” “It’s not going to get any better; it’s getting worse,” said Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, according to Politico Pro. And just yesterday, Molina Healthcare, the poster child of Obamacare, signaled their concerns about staying in the exchanges citing “too many unknowns.” It’s an unfortunate reality that’s paved with skyrocketing premiums and deductibles, less choice, and higher out-of-pocket costs. It doesn’t help that days before a new administration, the Obama administration locked in the plan rules and mandates for 2018 – earlier than ever before. [[{"fid":"2299","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"233","width":"443","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] House Republicans are working to quickly repeal Obamacare and rebuild our health care system with patient-centered reforms. Wednesday morning, the Trump administration issued a proposed rule which will address problems with special enrollment periods and other loopholes. “…these changes will help protect taxpayers and stabilize markets,” said full committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX). While Obamacare continues to keep insurers guessing, one thing is for certain. Patients can’t wait – they need relief. ### Read More

#SubEnergy Explores Modernizing Nation’s Energy Infrastructure

2017/02/15

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Energy, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), today held a hearing examining the state of America’s evolving energy infrastructure and barriers to innovation, modernization, and further job creation and economic growth. The changing energy landscape and technological development are creating opportunities in the manner in which electricity is delivered, generated, and consumed. Members explored opportunities to improve the nation’s economic competitiveness while modernizing the grid for the 21st century.  [[{"fid":"2294","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"331","width":"974","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] Ganesh Bell, Chief Digital Officer and General Manager of Software and Analytics at General Electric, discussed the importance of collaboration between the federal government and private industry, stating, “Given the myriad benefits of applying digital technology to electric power production and distribution – benefits that accrue to consumers, to utilities, and to the environment – the federal government should explore ways to encourage the responsible adoption of these digital technologies as a core part of our national electricity strategy. We would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with this Committee in furthering that objective…” Lonnie Stephenson, International President of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, talked about the importance of modernizing the permitting process for pipelines, commenting, “In order to assure these important projects are completed in a timely manner, unnecessary red tape must be eliminated from the siting and permitting process. It is absolutely critical that electrical infrastructure projects are completed by highly skilled, thoroughly trained, licensed workers.” “Adequate investment in surface transportation, water infrastructure, and domestic energy will create millions of jobs for workers across all segments of the economy,” added Terry O’Sullivan, General President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America. “This isn’t a Republican issue or Democratic issue; it’s an American issue. Every American benefits from good roads, safe bridges, clean drinking water, and affordable energy.” In his testimony, Steve Hauser, CEO of the GrideWise Alliance spoke to the importance of modernizing the grid, “Congress has an opportunity to demonstrate leadership in this regard. Grid modernization is an area that has garnered bipartisan support in the past and should continue to do so. Modernizing the grid will help create highly-skilled jobs and stimulate economic growth. It also will help reduce costs, and increase reliability, resilience, and security in the near and long term.”  [[{"fid":"2296","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"381","width":"571","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) stated, “The U.S. electrical grid is one of the engineering marvels of modern history. But it is aging and under stress. As technology continues to change the way we go about our daily lives, we also have to rethink how we generate, deliver and consume electricity. This could provide opportunities for consumers, both large and small to save money and be more competitive. We must also ensure that the grid works in ways that optimize and build upon integrating new technologies with existing grid infrastructure when needed.”  [[{"fid":"2298","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"417","width":"569","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] “We’re blessed to have the world’s most highly developed energy infrastructure, but our systems are aging and we’re confronting new challenges with the changing energy landscape,” concluded Chairman Upton. “Dynamic and integrated energy and electricity delivery systems allow reliable and competitively priced energy for American consumers. A modernized infrastructure is absolutely critical to our nation’s economic growth. A background memo, witness testimony, and an archived webcast of the hearing can be found on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s website HERE. ###  Read More

Bipartisan Committee Leaders Comment on Incentive Auction’s Conclusion

2017/02/15

WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Mike Doyle (D-PA), issued the following statement after last week’s conclusion of the FCC’s incentive auction. “The incentive auction’s conclusion with more than $19 billion in bids marks the end of the second largest auction and years of successful work in bringing market forces to bear on spectrum use policy,” said Walden, Pallone, Blackburn, and Doyle. “The broadcast incentive auction revolutionized the way that our nation makes spectrum allocation decisions by empowering broadcasters, businesses, networks, and consumers alike. Not only did the auction successfully encourage investment and competition by bringing 70 MHz of licensed and 14 MHz of unlicensed spectrum to meet our nation’s wireless broadband needs, but also generated $7 billion for deficit reduction. We thank the broadcasters and wireless bidders that ensured the auction was a success and are looking forward to the FCC working expeditiously to repack the remaining broadcasters without disruption to consumers. We will continue to work together to free up our airwaves and usher in the future of wireless broadband.” ###  Read More

Modernizing Energy and Electricity Delivery Systems: Challenges and Opportunities to Promote Infrastructure Improvement and Expansion

2017/02/15

[[{"fid":"2284","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full"},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full"}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"alt":"Modernizing Energy and Electricity Delivery Systems","height":"380","width":"640","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] Read More

Walden, Burgess Praise Move to Deliver Immediate Obamacare Relief

2017/02/15

WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) today issued the following statement after the Trump administration took action to deliver relief from Obamacare’s damage. “Patients and families understand best the need for urgent action to repeal Obamacare. Today’s action represents a clear signal from the Trump administration that patient voices have finally been heard, and that health care markets will get immediate relief. This rule helps move our country beyond the damage of Obamacare to patient-focused solutions to rebuild our health care system and provide fairness for everyone. Many of the actions in this rule directly align with proposed actions before our own committee. From requiring documentation for special enrollment periods and closing a loophole, these changes help protect taxpayers and stabilize markets. Working together, we will continue to get results for people across the country.” ### Read More

Walden Comments on Humana’s Departure from Obamacare Markets

2017/02/15

WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) today commented on Humana’s decision to exit the exchanges under Obamacare in 2018. The decision follows past statements by the insurer that they would be re-evaluating their future within the exchanges. “Humana isn’t the first insurer to flee Obamacare, and unfortunately, they probably won’t be the last. Today’s announcement reflects the realities of a failing law. Patients and families across the country are seeing fewer choices and facing higher costs. While some Obamacare proponents refuse to confront reality, House Republicans have a Better Way to reform our health care system that puts patients first, and will deliver quality, affordable health care,” said Chairman Walden. ###  Read More

Video: Latta Talks Technology of the Future

2017/02/14

WASHINGTON, DC –  Ahead of today’s #SubDCCP hearing, Chairman Bob Latta (R-OH) previews what audiences can expect the subcommittee to explore in the 115th Congress. First up, the exciting reality of once-futuristic technology: self-driving cars.   Watch the video below and be sure to tune into today’s hearing, “Self-Driving Cars: Road to Deployment” at 10:15 a.m.  [[{"fid":"2286","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default"},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"2":{"format":"default"}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"alt":"Latta DCCP","height":"380","width":"640","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"2"}}]] Click here to watch the video Read More

Walden: We Are Going to Get This Right

2017/02/14

[[{"fid":"2290","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"228","width":"342","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] Continuing our efforts to repeal Obamacare and deliver relief to patients suffering from the so-called “Affordable Care Act,” House Republicans today spoke on first steps to rebuild our nation’s health care system. “Health care is very important to all Americans,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), at the House Republican leadership press conference. “We want to get it right, we’ve been taking our time to do that.” In recent weeks, the committee held hearings looking beyond Obamacare. #SubOversight examined Medicaid expansion, and #SubHealth examined commonsense reforms to modernize Medicaid and insurance reforms to deliver relief to patients. “We want to give states flexibility, and we want to give people better health care. We are going to accomplish both, in the legislation we’ll be marking up in the near future,” concluded Chairman Walden. To watch the full press briefing, click HERE. ### Read More

#SubDCCP Examines Potential of Self-Driving Cars and Timeframe for Deployment

2017/02/14

[[{"fid":"2288","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"406","width":"480","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]] WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection, chaired by Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH), today held a hearing to continue exploring the potential of self-driving cars. Today’s hearing allowed for members to learn more about the safety benefits of self-driving cars, the testing of these automated technologies, and the projected timeframe for deployment.  The take-away theme of today’s hearing centered around the safety benefits that self-driving technology provides to society. At the start of the hearing, statistics reinforcing the promise of automated vehicle technology, including its ability to enhance safety, convenience, and mobility for consumers were provided by each witness. Gill Pratt, the CEO of Toyota Research Institute, specifically talked about how autonomous vehicle technology is already improving vehicle safety by reducing room for human error. He relayed, “In 2015 alone, approximately 1.25 million people died globally in automobile crashes, including 35,092 people in the U.S.” Continuing, he added, “Because more than 90% of crashes are caused by human error, autonomous vehicle technology has the potential to dramatically reduce these numbers.” [[{"fid":"2289","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"320","width":"480","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]] Witnesses listen to questions from committee members. Adding to the previous points made on the safety potential of self-driving cars, was Anders Karrberg, Vice President of Government Affairs at Volvo Car Group. He stated, “VCC believes autonomous vehicles are an incredible opportunity to redesign the concept of personal mobility and to improve traffic safety. So it is critical that policymakers have a legislative framework ready, before the technology arrives on the market.” Given the inherent role of self-driving vehicles in reducing traffic fatalities, Chairman Latta discussed the testing measures in place for eventual deployment. “Today, conventional vehicles undergo a range of tests in laboratories, on proving grounds, and on public roads before they are sold to consumers. In each of these settings, vehicle engineers and professional test-drivers go through detailed assessments and inspections of vehicles to ensure compliance with crashworthiness and crash avoidance standards, and to verify a vehicle’s overall structural integrity.” Expanding on the process for deployment of self-driving vehicles, Michael F. Ableson, Vice President of Global Strategy for General Motors discussed why testing was so important and the processes in place “to prove safety and inform policy making.” He continued, “We believe deploying in such a deliberate and controlled way will help to ensure that our self-driving vehicles meet the same strict standards for safety and quality that we’ve been building into our traditional vehicles for generations.” Witnesses also provided feedback on the challenges facing the auto industry as they strive to bring self-driving cars to the market. Joseph Okpaku, Vice President of Government Relations at Lyft, stated that, “the greatest potential obstacle [was] constrictive legislation and regulations.”  He goes on to say, “The worst possible scenario for the growth of autonomous vehicles is an inconsistent and conflicting patchwork of [s]tate, local, municipal, and county laws that will hamper efforts to bring AV technology to the market. This scenario is well on its way to becoming a reality.” For more information on today’s hearing, including a background memo, witness testimony, and archived webcast, click HERE. Read More

Self-Driving Cars: Road to Deployment

2017/02/14

[[{"fid":"2283","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full"},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full"}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"alt":"Self-Driving Cars: Road to Deployment","height":"380","width":"640","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] Read More

Non-Partisan Watchdog Recommends Improvements to Medicaid Personal Care Services

2017/02/13

WASHINGTON, DC – A new report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) examining Medicaid personal care services found that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) could do more to ensure requirements across programs are in harmony. According to GAO, their findings include: CMS has not collected useful state data on personal care services provided under two programs, although CMS stated that guidance for states to submit the reports is under development. Collecting these reports could improve oversight by providing CMS and Congress with information on programs’ effects on beneficiaries’ health and welfare. CMS’ program requirements have not addressed the significant differences across federal program requirements, specific to beneficiary safety and ensuring that billed services are provided. Consequently, beneficiary protections and oversight of billed services can vary by program. “As the Medicaid program continues to grow, so too does reliance on in-home personal care services. Current law allows these programs to be offered by multiple services, with varying federal requirements,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR). “Maintaining flexibility for states and beneficiaries is key, but the GAO’s findings that data are lacking and that these program guidelines are not in sync raises questions about how CMS can better work with states to streamline requirements and ensure appropriate program integrity measures. In heeding the GAO’s recommendations, I hope CMS will work with states to make improvements to help address improper payments and other types of waste.” In addition to GAO’s oversight, the HHS Office of the Inspector General has also warned the personal care services provided for Medicaid beneficiaries constitutes a growing part of the Medicaid program that deserves closer state and federal oversight. In recent months, HHS OIG issued an investigatory advisory on Medicaid fraud and patient harm involving personal care services. This serious advisory was a follow-up to numerous OIG efforts related to Medicaid personal care services in recent years. Click HERE to read the GAO report. ### Read More

Latta on Designation of Commissioner Ann Marie Buerkle as Acting Chairman of CPSC

2017/02/10

WASHINGTON, DC – Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chairman Bob Latta (R-OH) issued the following statement today after Hon. Ann Marie Buerkle was designated to serve as Acting Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). "CPSC is an agency tasked with one of the most important responsibilities in government –  protecting consumers while ensuring the safety of products in the market. Fortunately for us, we’ve had a strong and eloquent advocate in Commissioner Ann Marie Buerkle. Since joining the Commission in 2013, she has shown her commitment to bettering the lives of children and families through her thoughtful approach and outreach to the regulated community. I look forward to working with Chairman Buerkle in her new role and know she will do an excellent job leading the agency.” Read More

Blackburn Announces March 8th #SubCommTech FCC Hearing

2017/02/10

WASHINGTON, DC – Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) today announced that the subcommittee will hold a hearing on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, examining the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) reauthorization, budget, spectrum auctions, and proceedings. All three current commissioners are set to testify. “I’m looking forward to having new FCC Chairman Pai and Commissioners O’Reilly and Clyburn testify before the subcommittee,” said Chairman Blackburn. “It will provide our members the opportunity to learn more about the final stages of the broadcast incentive auction, Chairman Pai’s agenda, and FCC reauthorization.” The Majority Memorandum, a witness list, and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted. ###  Read More

Following Pentagon Findings, E&C Leaders Question Agencies on Waste

2017/02/10

Following a recent story by The Washington Post, the Energy and Commerce Committee today sent four letters to agencies within their jurisdiction inquiring about wasteful spending. A report found that “a ‘clear path’ existed for the Pentagon to cut $125 billion in spending over five years without reducing military forces or firing administrators.” Today’s letters from full committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA), asked the departments and agency if any such reports exist within their respective offices. Letters were sent to: the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Health and Human Services. [[{"fid":"2279","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"88","width":"468","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] February 10, 2017 The Pentagon found $125 billion in waste. Now a GOP chairman is asking other agencies what they’ve found. In 2015, a Defense Department advisory panel delivered a startling report: A “clear path” existed for the Pentagon to cut $125 billion in spending over five years without reducing military forces or firing administrators. What was even more startling: senior defense officials moved to discredit and suppress the Defense Business Board report, as The Washington Post reported last last year. Now a House committee is asking other federal agencies whether they’ve done any similar studies that have not seen the light of day. Letters from Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, and Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), chairman of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, were sent Friday to the Cabinet-level departments under the panel’s jurisdiction: The departments of Commerce, Energy, and Health and Human Services, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency. The letters cite The Post’s reporting on the Pentagon waste study, and asks each of the departments for answers to a series of requests by March 10. Among them: Copies of any internal study done by the department in question “similar to the internal study produced to the Department of Defense,” including reports examining whether savings from new efficiencies in business operations could be redirected to mission priorities. If no such studies exist, the departments are asked to review the Pentagon report and “provide a written response on any lessons learned from this report that could be applicable to your department/agency.” The departments are also invited to respond in detail if they are already taking action on recommendations made in existing reports or otherwise “taking initiatives to achieve department-wide budget savings in administrative efficiencies.” We look forward to working cooperatively and constructively with you in streamlining administration of programs and achieving significant budget savings,” the letters read. The four departments in question are all waiting for their new leaders, nominated by President Trump, to be confirmed by the Senate. Trump has repeatedly promised to crack down on “tremendous waste, fraud, and abuse” in the federal government, though to date he has focused his attention on federal contracts — such as deals to replace Air Force One and build F-35 fighter jets — than the more prosaic work of wringing business efficiencies out of agencies. To read the article online, click HERE. ###   Read More

Letters to Agencies Regarding Administrative Waste

2017/02/10

Excerpt: "Pursuant to Rules X and XI of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Committee on Energy and Commerce is examining efforts by federal departments and agencies in its jurisdiction to identify administrative waste and "a clear path" to achieve significant budget savings in the next five years." To read the letter to the Department of Commerce, click here. To read the letter to the Department of Energy, click here. To read the letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, click here. To read the letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, click here. Read More

Walden and Burgess Comment on Rep. Price’s Confirmation as HHS Secretary

2017/02/10

WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) today issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Rep. Tom Price, M.D. (R-GA) as the secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). “With Senate confirmation of Dr. Tom Price as HHS Secretary, we can really get to work cleaning up the mess of the past and building a truly patient-centered health care system with better choices for Americans. Who better to work with than a physician who has championed what’s best for patients all of his life? As desperate patients and families look to move beyond the failures of Obamacare, we know that our friend and colleague has the hard-earned experience to lead reform efforts at HHS. We look forward to working with Dr. Price and his team at HHS as Congress follows through on its promise to repeal Obamacare and rebuild our health care system with patient-centered reforms.” ### Read More

#SubEnvironment to Look at Modernizing Environmental Laws NEXT WEEK

2017/02/09

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Environment, chaired by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), today announced a hearing for Thursday, February 16, 2017, at 10 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled, “Modernizing Environmental Laws: Challenges and Opportunities for Expanding Infrastructure and Promoting Development and Manufacturing.” Members of the subcommittee will examine challenges and opportunities for expanding infrastructure, economic redevelopment, and manufacturing through the modernization of certain environmental laws that fall under the subcommittee’s jurisdiction, including the Clean Air Act and the Brownfields provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.  “In previous Congresses we’ve looked at ways that we can modernize and update certain laws to ensure more efficient, cost-effective environmental protections, while promoting innovation and more affordable goods and services,” said Chairman Shimkus. “Next week’s hearing will provide our members an opportunity to consider practical reforms to promote the expansion of domestic infrastructure and manufacturing.” The Majority Memorandum, witness list, and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted. ###  Read More

NEXT WEEK: #SubEnergy to Explore Modernizing Energy Infrastructure

2017/02/08

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Energy, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), today announced a hearing for Wednesday, February 15, 2017, at 10 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled, “Modernizing Energy and Electricity Delivery Systems: Challenges and Opportunities to Promote Infrastructure Improvement and Expansion.” America’s energy landscape has changed dramatically over the past decade. Energy production is at record levels, but the nation’s aging infrastructure needs to be improved and expanded to ensure the safe, efficient delivery of fuels to consumers. At the same time, technological developments in the electricity system are presenting new challenges and opportunities to the manner in which electricity is generated, delivered, and consumed across the country. The hearing will explore opportunities to improve our nation’s economic competitiveness by examining the state of America’s evolving energy infrastructure and barriers to innovation, modernization, further job creation and economic growth.   “While our energy renaissance has provided us the benefits of affordable, reliable energy and jobs, we can do better. It’s time we took a look at barriers to modernizing existing laws so we can improve and expand our infrastructure to maximize the economic potential of our natural resources,” said Chairman Upton. “Infrastructure modernization is critical and would create more jobs for folks in Michigan and across the country, stimulate new production growth, and strengthen our energy security. I’m looking forward to learning more about what can be done to capitalize on our energy abundance and bring our infrastructure into the 21st century.” The Majority Memorandum, witness list, and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.   Read More

Despite their Affection for Obamacare, House Democrats Have Voted Against Health Care Law in the Past

2017/02/08

[[{"fid":"2265","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"260","width":"495","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] Whether it comes from the mouth of President Bill Clinton or President Barack Obama, it is evident that Democrats have continued concerns about the so-called “Affordable Care Act.” And when you dig deeper into the one-size-fits-all health care law, it’s easy to see why. But while Democrats like Nancy Pelosi have said that Obamacare has “succeeded in every way” and Ranking Member Pallone has accused House Republicans of “actively trying to sabotage the law,” the rhetoric doesn’t match the reality. A recent report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) confirms that House Democrats have voted repeatedly with Republicans to repeal, modify, delay, or defund all or parts of Obamacare. Since 2010, 65 bills considered in the House did just that. There were 70 total votes taken on these bills – 9 of which were by voice vote. Of the recorded votes, 58 included at least one Democrat voting with Republicans. [[{"fid":"2262","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"254","width":"540","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] In total, there have been 4,775 individual votes by House Democrats that sought to repeal, modify, delay, or defund all or parts of Obamacare. [[{"fid":"2263","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"176","width":"540","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] To top it off, 20 of those bills were signed into law by…wait for it…President Obama. [[{"fid":"2264","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"71","width":"540","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] House Republicans are hard at work to deliver relief to patients suffering from Obamacare. We ask that House Democrats drop the rhetoric, accept the reality that the law has failed, and join us again to repeal and replace Obamacare with affordable, patient-centered, health care reforms. Don’t believe us? Check the facts here or download our infographic here. ### Read More

#SubDCCP to Continue Exploring Potential of Self-Driving Cars

2017/02/07

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection, chaired by Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH), today announced a hearing for Tuesday, February 14, 2017, at 10:15 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled, “Self-Driving Cars: Road to Deployment.” A continued rise in traffic fatalities has highlighted the potential of automated vehicle technologies to make America’s roads safer.  Next week, members will take another look at self-driving cars, exploring how they can improve traffic and roadway safety, in addition to the other social and economic benefits generated by these vehicles.  Members will also examine how auto manufacturers and other entities are testing automated vehicle technologies, the existence of any barriers to the testing of this technology, as well as projected timelines for and types of commercial deployment. “Self-driving cars are transforming the auto-industry as we know it,” said Chairman Latta. “Our subcommittee is going to focus all year on consumers and job creation, and self-driving cars are an excellent opportunity to advance both priorities simultaneously. In this and other hearings, we will explore the potential of this game-changing technology and ensure the proper framework is in place for a safe and secure deployment of self-driving cars.”                         The Majority Memorandum, witness list, and witness testimony for the hearing will be available here as they are posted. Read More

#SubCommTech Chairman Blackburn on O’Rielly and Clyburn FCC Process Reforms

2017/02/07

WASHINGTON, DC – Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) today issued the following statement after Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announced further process reforms at the agency. “Today’s announcement that the FCC will be implementing process reforms championed by Commissioners O’Rielly and Clyburn is a welcome sign of a return to bipartisanship at the commission. While the commissioners won’t always agree, it is heartening to see that they can find common ground on the need for reforms to the broken FCC process,” said Chairman Blackburn. “I once again applaud Chairman Pai for these thoughtful actions and commend the entire commission for their decision to work together to bring transparency, accountability, and collegiality back to the FCC.” ###  Read More

#SubHealth Advances Two Medicaid Bills

2017/02/07

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), today held a markup examining two commonsense bills to strengthen Medicaid and prioritize the most vulnerable. The subcommittee advanced the following bills:  H.R. 829, The Prioritizing the Most Vulnerable Over Lottery Winners Act of 2017, authored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), would alter how Medicaid eligibility is determined so states are not forced to cover lottery jackpot winners and can prioritize the low-income population the program is meant to serve. H.R. 829 passed the subcommittee by a bipartisan vote of 20-11. H.R. 181, Close Annuity Loopholes in Medicaid (CALM) Act, authored by Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), would ensure individuals with significant means are not burdening taxpayers instead of paying for their own care. The CALM Act will ensure Medicaid coverage is truly for the needy and not those masking their income. H.R. 181 passed the subcommittee by a vote of 19-13. “Both of these bills would reduce federal and state Medicaid spending by hundreds of millions of dollars, freeing up resources that could be directed toward specific patient populations or targeted areas of need,” stated Chairman Burgess. For more information on today’s markup, including a background memo, archived webcast, and text of the legislation, click here. ### Read More

New Report Highlights Need for Improved Medicaid Oversight

2017/02/07

WASHINGTON, DC – A recent report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) continues to rely on inaccurate, incomplete, and untimely Medicaid data. Released yesterday, the report outlines how such issues limit the agency’s ability to ensure that federal payments to states are proper and that Medicaid beneficiaries have access to services. Following the release of the report, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) issued the following statement: “For the last 14 years, GAO has warned the Medicaid program is ‘high-risk.’ This GAO report reiterates that much work needs to be done to improve data integrity at CMS on the behalf of both taxpayer and patients. As the agency is soon to be under the direction of a new administrator, it is our hope CMS will work to implement the GAO’s recommendations as soon as possible.” CMS's 2016 Actuarial Report estimated the federal government paid $363 billion in Medicaid expenditures and covered 72 million beneficiaries in 2016. This same report projects that over the next 10 years, total federal and state expenditures “are projected to increase at an average annual rate of 5.7 percent and to reach $957.5 billion by 2025.” Additional findings of the report include: GAO found that less than half of the states are submitting data to a new CMS data system designed to streamline and improve the quality of data reported by states to CMS. GAO’s report recommends that the administrator of CMS take immediate action to assess and improve the data that the agency relies on to conduct program oversight. The GAO report was requested by a bipartisan group of members from the House Energy and Commerce and Senate Finance committees who recognize that having useful and timely data for program oversight is critical to better manage the Medicaid program. Since 2003, GAO has designated the Medicaid program as high-risk due to its size, concerns about the adequacy of fiscal oversight, and other criteria. Medicaid was originally established to provide health care coverage to the nation’s most vulnerable citizens. Under this federal-state program, states have responsibility for daily operations and report various data to CMS, including data on expenditures and utilization of services. Click HERE to read the GAO report. ### Read More

Subcommittee Vote on H.R. 829 and H.R. 181

2017/02/07

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Blackburn Comments on Pai’s Move to Implement Further Process Reforms

2017/02/06

WASHINGTON, DC – Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) today issued the following statement after Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announced further reforms to the agency’s processes. “For the last few years, we have been concerned that the actions of the chairman threatened the character and integrity of the FCC as a Commission. Among the most troubling was the breakdown in the communications between the commissioners and the chairman’s tendency to selectively release information to the public before sharing it with the rest of the commission,” said Chairman Blackburn. “Today’s announcement by Chairman Pai marks a return to the collegiality and cooperation between commissioners that was once the hallmark of the FCC. I applaud Chairman Pai for his commitment to restoring the public’s faith in the FCC.” ###  Read More

MARKUP: #SubHealth to Vote on Two Medicaid Bills NEXT WEEK

2017/02/03

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), has scheduled a markup convening on Tuesday, January 7, 2017, at 10 a.m., in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The subcommittee will review the following bills:  H.R. 181, Close Annuity Loopholes in Medicaid (CALM) Act, authored by Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), would ensure individuals with significant means are not burdening taxpayers instead of paying for their own care. The CALM Act will ensure Medicaid coverage is truly for the needy and not those masking their income.   H.R. 829, The Prioritizing the Most Vulnerable Over Lottery Winners Act of 2017, authored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), would alter how Medicaid eligibility is determined for lottery jackpot winners, so the program can prioritize the low-income population the program is meant to serve. “The Health Subcommittee reviewed both of these commonsense proposals this week and held a productive discussion. I look forward to discussing these bills further next week as we continue to advance ways to rebuild our health care system,” said Chairman Burgess. Full committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) also announced that the Health Subcommittee will consider H.R. 749, a bill to increase competition in the pharmaceutical industry, later this month. “Following up on the president’s call to make prescription drugs more affordable for Americans, the Energy and Commerce Committee is eager to move forward with consideration of bipartisan legislation, H.R. 749, offered by Reps. Kurt Schrader and Gus Bilirakis. This bill will increase competition in the pharmaceutical industry and will play an important role in our efforts to lower the high cost of some medicines,” said Chairman Walden. "However, to accommodate a formal request from our Democrat colleagues to slow down consideration of this measure, I have agreed to consider it at a future hearing.” Electronic copies of the legislation and a background memo can be found on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s website here. Amendment text and votes will be available at the same link as they are posted. ### Read More

ICYMI: E&C Republicans Highlight Path Forward on Health Care Reform

2017/02/03

This past week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a series of hearings relating to Obamacare. From examining Medicaid expansion and commonsense reforms to Medicaid to insurance reforms to bring relief to patients, the committee laid the groundwork for moving beyond Obamacare. Here’s a recap of what you might have missed. [[{"fid":"2249","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"89","width":"473","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] January 31, 2017 Repealing Obamacare and Rebuilding Our Health Care System By Chairmen Greg Walden (R-OR) and Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) It’s an exciting time for our country. With a unified Republican government in place, the coming months are shaping up to be a busy time working to put real solutions in place to help the American people. At the forefront of the agenda is repealing Obamacare and rebuilding our health care system in order to provide quality health care, at an affordable price, to the citizens of our country. It’s no small task, but one we are committed to doing — and doing right. … To read the column online, click HERE. February 1, 2017 Three Reforms to Strengthen Medicaid and Prioritize the Most Vulnerable By Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), and Bill Flores (R-TX) Medicaid is a critically important safety net program that serves the most vulnerable in every community and it is imperative that these vital tax dollars are spent taking care of those in the greatest need. Today, the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee will examine three commonsense reforms, authored by us individually, to ensure Medicaid is working for those it serves. The bills cover a range of issues within the program, but work toward the common goal of strengthening the program so beneficiaries can make the most of these important benefits. … To read the column online, click HERE.   February 2, 2017 Initial Health Care Relief Measures Put Patients First and Help Stabilize Markets By Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Bill Flores (R-TX), and Greg Walden (R-OR) Everywhere you turn, health markets are nearing collapse. It’s an unfortunate and catastrophic reality of too much federal intervention in our health care. From soaring deductibles and skyrocketing premiums to fleeing insurers, it’s no wonder patients are paying more out of pocket each year under the so-called “Affordable Care Act.” Today, the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee will examine four legislative solutions to help deliver relief. Together, the bills will play an important role in being among the first bricks placed in the rebuilding of our health care system. Collectively, they will give patients relief from the law’s soaring costs, tighten enrollment gaps, and protect taxpayers. … To read the column online, click HERE. Read More

Walden Comments on 2017 Obamacare Enrollment

2017/02/03

WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) today commented on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) announcement regarding 2017 enrollment of Obamacare. “People may be enrolled, but that doesn’t mean Obamacare is working. We have a new class of uninsured patients under this law – one where folks are priced out of actually using their coverage because of sky-high premiums, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket costs. Patients deserve better – better access to care, lower costs, and being able to actually use their health insurance. As we work to repeal this one-size-fits-all law, we will institute reforms that put patients first and rebuild our health care markets. It’s a lot of work, but it’s necessary work, and we will deliver for the patients and families looking to us for relief,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR). ### Read More

Walden & Blackburn Applaud Pai’s Work to Rescind a Number of FCC Orders

2017/02/03

WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) issued the following statement after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rescinded a number of orders that the FCC adopted at the end of Chairman Wheeler’s term.   “We commend Chairman Pai for yet another step toward much-needed reform at the FCC. For too long, the commission has used the ability to delegate authority to its bureaus as a way to bypass the hard work of coming to consensus on difficult issues,” said Walden and Blackburn. “Chairman Pai’s readiness to rescind those hastily issued bureau decisions is an encouraging turn for the better, and we’re confident that the new FCC will work quickly, efficiently, and transparently to resolve any questions that remain.” Chairman Blackburn added, “I am particularly pleased to see the FCC moving forward to reverse the ownership reporting requirements for non-commercial and educational television. I believe that the burden posed by those regulations to non-profit, non-commercial stations will be appropriately considered by the full commission.” ###  Read More

DIGITAL RECAP: The Week in Review

2017/02/03

WASHINGTON, DC – This week, the Energy and Commerce Committee kicked off its first full week of hearings on a host of topics ranging from Medicaid to cybersecurity. Members are hard at work already and eager to deliver solutions that bring relief to patients suffering under Obamacare, strengthen Medicaid and prioritize the most vulnerable, and secure our nation’s electric grid. In the midst of this week’s five hearings, the Oregon Ducks received a shout out and the Washington Auto Show was visited. Scroll down to check out the digital recap of the committee’s week in review. For more updates on the committee’s activities, be sure to follow us on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. [[{"fid":"2240","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"320","width":"480","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]] Representatives Buddy Carter (R-GA), Mimi Walters (R-CA), Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Ryan Costello (R-PA) meet in the member room prior to Tuesday’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing. [[{"fid":"2241","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"320","width":"480","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]] Innovative technology is a driving force behind many of the new advancements in the auto-industry. Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chairman Bob Latta (R-OH) had an opportunity to witness many of these developments at the Washington Auto Show on Wednesday. [[{"fid":"2242","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"480","width":"476","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]] Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) gives a quick “Go Ducks” shout out before delivering his opening remarks. [[{"fid":"2243","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"320","width":"480","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]] Energy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) and Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) share a laugh before the start of Wednesday’s Health Subcommittee hearing. [[{"fid":"2244","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"280","width":"480","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]] During Wednesday’s Energy Subcommittee hearing, Representatives Billy Long (R-MO) and Bill Johnson (R-OH) listen to witness testimony on how the electricity sector is responding to cybersecurity threats. [[{"fid":"2245","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"320","width":"480","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]] Heath Subcommittee seatmates Buddy Carter and Chris Collins (R-NY) catch up before witnesses take their seats. [[{"fid":"2246","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"320","width":"480","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]] Her first time as Chairman of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) gavels into the Thursday hearing on reauthorization of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). [[{"fid":"2247","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"318","width":"480","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]] During Thursday’s Health Subcommittee hearing, members review four pieces of legislation that would provide relief to patients from Obamacare’s collapsing health markets. [[{"fid":"2248","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"267","width":"480","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]] This week, the committee released a video recapping the ways Obamacare has failed the American people. Check it out here. #RepealObamacare     Read More

#SubHealth Looks Beyond Obamacare, Examining Reforms to Deliver Relief to Patients

2017/02/02

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), today held a hearing examining four legislative proposals that would deliver relief to patients from Obamacare’s collapsing health markets. J.P. Wieske, Deputy Commissioner of Insurance for the state of Wisconsin, testified about how health care plans in Wisconsin fared before Obamacare and now, under Obamacare, stating, “The ACA made a number of changes to the rules governing health insurance markets across the country. These ‘one-size-fits-all’ changes have impacted rates, consumer choice, and the ability for a free market to operate. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work in health insurance policy.” In an exchange with full committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), Mr. Wieske elaborated further on his state’s situation, saying, “We’ve had a significant number of market exits. We think we can get them to return if the market rules are more reasonable across the country. It’s not our rules that’s the problem, it’s the federal rules. … So I think that a return to market principles with appropriate consumer protections that the market will return.” Members also shared some personal stories about how Obamacare has impacted their lives and those of their constituents. Chairman Burgess reflected on having his plan dropped in 2015, forcing him to lose his doctor. Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) shared the story of a constituent who said over the last three years, the increased premiums have cost his family approximately $21,000. In his opening statement, Chairman Burgess set an inclusive tone for today’s discussion and those in the future, saying, “While we are committed to large-scale reform, real people are struggling as we speak and we are not waiting to take action. These bills are an important example of the work we are doing right now to advance member-driven solutions that will improve health care for all Americans. I am hopeful that we can work together to reform our health care system for the benefit of the American people.” A background memo, witness testimony, and an archived webcast of the markup can be found on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s website here. ### Read More

#SubCommTech Examines NTIA’s Reauthorization and its Role in the 21st Century

2017/02/02

WASHINGTON, DC – The Communications and Technology Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), today held its first hearing of the 115th Congress with a holistic examination of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Established in 1978, the NTIA and its administrator were tasked with serving as the president’s principal advisor on communications policy. The NTIA administrator serves as the coordinator of government spectrum allocations, and voice of the administration at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and in Congress. Despite NTIA’s important role on communications and information policy, it has not been reauthorized since 1992. Members discussed NTIA’s role moving forward in the efficient use of federally held spectrum, its role in broadband deployment, and its role in promoting safe, secure communications networks.  [[{"fid":"2238","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"246","width":"369","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] Witnesses Ready to Testify at Today’s Hearing In her testimony, Meredith Attwell Baker, President and CEO at CTIA and former Acting Administrator at NTIA, discussed the importance of NTIA’s role moving forward, stating, “There are limited additional opportunities for the FCC to make more spectrum available on its own. That is why NTIA’s role is so important – more so than ever before. … In light of the extraordinary value of spectrum to private and public entities, NTIA must have the prominence and resources to perform its critical tasks.” John M.R. Kneuer, President and Founder of JKC Consulting and former NTIA Administrator, noted NTIA’s role when it comes to cyber defense and security, commenting, “By providing the perspective of industry into the inter-agency process, NTIA can help bridge the gap between the executive branch interests with national and homeland security responsibilities and key private sector interests so that they all support our collective cyber-defenses. Similarly, NTIA can serve as a conduit from government agencies with cyber responsibilities to the private sector to ensure that information flows in both directions to maximum affect.” “As the challenges of Internet-related policies continue to evolve and present themselves, it is critical to have a strong NTIA that can help the U.S. Government represent U.S. interests in setting productive policies that allow for continued innovation and growth in the global digital economy,” added Anna M. Gomez, Partner at Wiley Rein LLP and former Acting Administrator at NTIA. “The communications sector is vibrant and thriving, and the government agencies that handle these issues should reflect that. We must ensure that we empower NTIA to be as effective and efficient as possible in combatting cyber attacks and promoting strong public safety networks. NTIA will be an essential player in spectrum allocation and broadband deployment in any discussions moving forward,” concluded Chairman Blackburn. “It is far past time that we again reauthorize the agency, and a first step in the process is to examine the role of the agency, past, present, and future in crafting policies that will achieve our goals.” A background memo, witness testimony, and an archived webcast of the markup can be found on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s website HERE. ###  Read More

Walden & Blackburn Applaud Chairman Pai’s Move to Increase Transparency at FCC

2017/02/02

WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) today issued the following statement after Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai released the text of two proceedings for public comment. “This is the type of transparency we’ve been urging the FCC to implement for the last several Congresses. Then-Commissioner Pai and Commissioner O’Rielly had long pushed for greater transparency during Chairman Wheeler’s tenure, and we are pleased to see that just two weeks into Commissioner Pai's chairmanship we are already seeing positive changes at the commission,” said Walden and Blackburn. “We applaud Chairman Pai’s decision to release the text of the FCC’s proposed AM revitalization and next generation broadcast items. We’re glad to see these items being advanced and look forward to working with Chairman Pai to create a more open, transparent, and accountable FCC.” In January, the House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 290, the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2017, sponsored by Chairman Walden. H.R. 290 contained provisions that would make the FCC more efficient, transparent, and accountable through reforming the commission’s processes and ensuring the FCC regulates in an innovative and dynamic way. Part of the bill included the transparency reform FCC Chairman Pai announced today.   ###  Read More

Reauthorization of NTIA

2017/02/02

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Patient Relief from Collapsing Health Markets

2017/02/02

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Bucshon, Blackburn, Flores, and Walden on Delivering Relief to Patients

2017/02/02

As the House Energy and Commerce Committee continues its series of hearings on Obamacare, the focus today turns to efforts to put patients first and help stabilize health insurance markets. The authors of the four bills to be considered at today’s #SubHealth legislative hearing detailed how the policies can translate to meaningful reforms. “Today’s hearing is an important step in both the repeal of Obamacare and how we move toward a patient-first health care system. Critical work lies ahead, and today’s discussion will help piece together the solutions that families trust – knowing we are working for them,” write Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Bill Flores (R-TX), and Greg Walden (R-OR) in Morning Consult. “Health care is a priority for this Congress and this committee, and we are committed to doing it right.” Be sure to check out the column by full committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) in Morning Consult on Tuesday, and a column by Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), and Bill Flores (R-TX) examining ways to strengthen Medicaid. [[{"fid":"2232","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"52","width":"311","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] February 2, 2017 Initial Health Care Relief Measures Put Patients First and Help Stabilize Markets By Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Bill Flores (R-TX), and Greg Walden (R-OR) Everywhere you turn, health markets are nearing collapse. It’s an unfortunate and catastrophic reality of too much federal intervention in our health care. From soaring deductibles and skyrocketing premiums to fleeing insurers, it’s no wonder patients are paying more out of pocket each year under the so-called “Affordable Care Act.” Today, the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee will examine four legislative solutions to help deliver relief. Together, the bills will play an important role in being among the first bricks placed in the rebuilding of our health care system. Collectively, they will give patients relief from the law’s soaring costs, tighten enrollment gaps, and protect taxpayers. Obamacare artificially restricted premiums for older Americans to no more than three times what is charged younger Americans in the individual market. This arbitrary cost shift flew in the face of the market where the cost of health care for older adults cost an average of 4.8 times that of healthier, younger patients. This one change dramatically increased the premiums for young people who in turn decided they were being forced to buy plans they couldn’t and probably wouldn’t use much. Pricing healthier adults out of the markets contributes to higher out-of-pocket costs for everyone. Rather than settling for this arbitrary, actuarially unstable system, Rep. Larry Bucshon, a heart surgeon, introduced H.R. 708, the State Age Rating Flexibility Act of 2017, to return control to the states by allowing them to set the ratio for their unique populations or a standard 5:1, which better reflects the true costs of care. This flexibility will allow young, healthy patients to join the health insurance marketplace, which will, in turn, stabilize risk pools, allow insurers to offer patients more options, breed competition, and drive down costs for everyone. Additionally, under current law and the rules implemented during the Obama administration, certain patients are allowed to enter HealthCare.gov and state exchanges outside of the defined Open Enrollment Period. Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs) are an important tool for patients who may lose health insurance outside of the traditional OEP or experience a life event — like moving, having or adopting a child, or getting married. Currently, the administration is required to verify documentation for individuals enrolling with SEPs. However, the administration allows for coverage without verification. H.R. 706, the Plan Verification and Fairness Act, authored by Rep. Blackburn, offers this simple solution and necessitates verification for individuals who wish to enroll under SEPs. This measure is another tool to help provide short-term stabilization of the individual insurance market while we work on additional, longer-term solutions to rebuild health markets. When it comes to exchange plan enrollment, Obamacare ignored state laws and extended the grace period for premium delinquency to three months before any enrollee’s coverage ends. As a result, there’s mounting concern that a significant amount of people have gamed the system by signing up and receiving care, but never paying for the premium. Can you imagine what would happen if that were applied to auto insurance or homeowner’s insurance? A growing population of exchange enrollees are using this provision as a loophole to game the system to get free health care while driving up costs for those who rightfully pay their monthly premiums. This abuse creates an imbalance in the risk pool which drives up the cost of coverage in the form of higher premiums for everyone else. H.R. 710, the Health Coverage State Flexibility Act of 2017, authored by Rep. Bill Flores, closes this loophole and provides premium relief for hardworking Americans by changing the length of the grace period back to state law, or one month. Finally, we’ll consider legislation ensuring patients with pre-existing conditions are not denied coverage or care. This is about fairness. The Preexisting Conditions Protection and Continuous Coverage Incentive Act of 2017, authored by Chairman Greg Walden, will prioritize and protect patients with pre-existing conditions. For too long, patients with pre-existing conditions were turned away. As we move forward on legislative solutions, this provision will be a key component. It’s a necessary step in increasing the accessibility of quality, affordable health care that works all Americans. And it’s a longstanding Republican principle packaged into a range of alternative plans. Today’s hearing is an important step in both the repeal of Obamacare and how we move toward a patient-first health care system. Critical work lies ahead, and today’s discussion will help piece together the solutions that families trust — knowing we are working for them. Health care is a priority for this Congress and this committee, and we are committed to doing it right. To read the column online, click HERE. ###   Read More

#SubEnergy Examines Electricity Sector’s Efforts to Respond to Cybersecurity Threats

2017/02/01

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Energy, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), today kicked-off its first hearing of the 115th Congress examining the electricity sector’s efforts to respond to cybersecurity threats.  Given the recent increased public attention to the risks posed by cyber threats to the electricity grid the subcommittee received an update from electricity sector experts to examine the various efforts industry is taking to address current and future threats. The examination included assessment of information sharing and related practices, which were enhanced by committee provisions included in the FAST Act. Those provisions provided new authorities to address grid security emergencies and to facilitate the protection and voluntary sharing of critical electric infrastructure information between private sector asset owners and the federal government. “News reports bombard us almost daily about malware infections and portrayals of the harm from cyber attacks. It is unquestionable that ensuring the reliable supply of electricity is absolutely vital to our nation’s security, economy, our health and welfare,” said Chairman Upton. “In my home state of Michigan and across the country, electricity enables telecommunications, financial transactions, the transport and delivery of energy, and food. Cyber threats to reliability deserve our constant examination.” Scott Aaronson, Executive Director, Security and Business Continuity at the Edison Electric Institute testified on the importance of adapting to changing threats and a willingness to work with Congress moving forward, stating, “Security cannot be static; threats evolve and so must we. The electric sector embraces this fact as demonstrated by the ongoing development of regulatory standards, the high-level partnerships developed under ESCC that are enabling us to accomplish more in less time, and the focus on constantly improving preparedness by applying lessons learned from exercises and real-world events. As industry and government leadership improves our ability to protect critical infrastructure from all types of threats, we look forward to working with Congress on this important mission.” Full committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) added, “By any measure, the reliable supply of electricity is an essential part of almost everything we do, and its loss – even for short periods – can have expensive and life threatening consequences. Unfortunately, cyber threats in this sector are unavoidable and growing. This hearing laid the groundwork for closer scrutiny of the relevant polices necessary to ensure future reliability in an evolving electricity sector. The testimony received today will inform how we approach the future and how we best use innovation and technology to protect American consumers.” “The energy subcommittee’s agenda for this Congress will include a close focus on various structural, economic, and technological factors that are affecting development of the nation’s electricity system,” concluded Chairman Upton. “We must continue to build a record about electric sector efforts to address cybersecurity threats. Moving forward, we will identify whether additional measures, are necessary.” A background memo, witness testimony, and an archived webcast of the markup can be found on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s website HERE.  Read More

#SubHealth Examines Three Commonsense Bills to Modernize Medicaid

2017/02/01

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), today held a hearing examining three legislative proposals that would strengthen Medicaid and prioritize the most vulnerable. “Medicaid – a state-federal partnership designed as a safety net for the most vulnerable – has grown at a rapid rate,” stated Chairman Burgess. “Today’s Medicaid program is three times larger – by enrollment and spending – than it was in 1997 under President Bill Clinton. This safety-net program will cover up to 98 million people this year, and will cost taxpayers more than $600 billion.” A line of questioning by full committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) with Dr. Avik Roy, President of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, stressed the overarching goal of today’s hearing. “Look, this is not a debate about whether or not we should provide, and subsidize, and help people who need health insurance and are poor. It’s what’s the best way to do that,” said Dr. Roy. “And I firmly believe that the best way to do that is giving those patients more control over the health care dollars that are spent on their behalf. You get less waste and fraud, more accountability, and more innovation in the delivery of health care.” Chairman Walden agreed and highlighted recent meetings with governors, where repeated demands for increased flexibility have been made. Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) inquired about the type of officials at CMS overseeing Medicaid and their backgrounds. Highlighting publicly available data on CMS officials, Rep. Bucshon said, “only four percent held a credential as a health care provider … only five percent worked for a state Medicaid program.” John McCarthy, former Director of the Ohio Department of Medicaid, and former Deputy Director of the District of Columbia Department of Health Care Finance, articulated that Medicaid directors need to be brought into the process for rules and regulations earlier, saying, “the rules and regulations for how states are looked at have to be different.” A background memo, witness testimony, and an archived webcast of the markup can be found on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s website here. ### Read More

The Electricity Sector's Efforts to Respond to Cybersecurity Threats

2017/02/01

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Strengthening Medicaid and Prioritizing the Most Vulnerable

2017/02/01

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ICYMI: Walden in The Hill: The Time is Now for Real Energy Reform

2017/02/01

Earlier this week Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) wrote in The Hill why things will be different this Congress when it comes to enacting meaningful energy and environment reforms. Chairman Walden wrote, “For the first time since 2007, Republicans maintain majorities in both the House and Senate and now control the White House. This rare opportunity increases the prospects for enacting reforms that build on our nation’s energy abundance, modernize our energy infrastructure, and promote domestic manufacturing and job growth – reforms that truly make a difference at the local level. “For too long, the promises of modernized energy infrastructure were held back by the Obama administration’s Washington-centric regulatory and environmental agenda. It’s time we think bigger. It’s time we put consumers first. It’s time we bring greater transparency, accountability and predictability to our energy and environmental laws to meet the needs of consumers in the 21st century. This Congress, things will be different,” concluded Chairman Walden. TODAY: The Subcommittee on Energy is set to kick-off its first hearing of the 115th Congress with an examination of the electricity sector’s efforts to respond to cybersecurity threats. [[{"fid":"2229","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"302","width":"306","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] January 30, 2017 The time is now for real energy reform By Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) This Congress, things will be different. For the first time since 2007, Republicans maintain majorities in both the House and Senate and now control the White House. This rare opportunity increases the prospects for enacting reforms that build on our nation’s energy abundance, modernize our energy infrastructure, and promote domestic manufacturing and job growth — reforms that truly make a difference at the local level. At the House Energy and Commerce Committee, we will ensure our reform efforts focus on the issues that matter most to consumers. We will pursue policies that will help increase the affordability, quality, and supply of the goods and services people use in their daily lives. This effort begins with energy, which fuels the great productive power of American enterprise. Under President Obama’s tenure, we saw a barrage of red-tape regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy. These regulations impeded energy development, prematurely shuttered coal plants, delayed or blocked job-creating new projects, crippled innovation and stifled economic growth. Businesses and American ingenuity took a back seat to the Obama administration’s regulatory onslaught, and the American people suffered…   With former Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) taking up the gavel at the energy subcommittee and Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) leading the environment subcommittee, the Energy and Commerce Committee is primed to lead when it comes to ushering in a new era of American ingenuity that capitalizes on our energy abundance. I know they’ll effectively guide meaningful legislation through our committee.   We’ve already had several bipartisan bills aimed at improving energy efficiency pass the House this Congress, and we are working to get several more across the finish line. Under this leadership, we will focus our early efforts on energy infrastructure improvement, expansion, and regulatory reforms to energy and environmental statutes. We should recognize that it is through technological development, market-driven efficiencies and economic expansion that we can ensure conscientious stewardship of the environment while protecting consumer interests — and our regulations should reflect that. We will consider eliminating regulatory barriers to empower consumers to value low cost and transformative energy solutions. For too long, the promises of modernized energy infrastructure were held back by the Obama administration’s Washington-centric regulatory and environmental agenda. It’s time we think bigger. It’s time we put consumers first. It’s time we bring greater transparency, accountability and predictability to our energy and environmental laws to meet the needs of consumers in the 21st century.  This Congress, things will be different. To read the column online, click HERE. ### Read More

Upton, Mullin, and Flores on Modernizing Medicaid

2017/02/01

As the House Energy and Commerce Committee continues its series of hearings on Obamacare, the focus turns to commonsense reforms that can be made to strengthen Medicaid and prioritize the most vulnerable. The authors of the three bills to be considered at today’s #SubHealth legislative hearing took a deeper dive into how the policies can translate to meaningful reforms. “As we work to rebuild our health care system, today’s check-up on the Medicaid program is an important step in the right direction,” write Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), and Bill Flores (R-TX) in Morning Consult. “By pursuing these straightforward improvements and other reforms, we can maximize our dollars while helping improve the quality of care our most vulnerable citizens receive." Stay tuned Thursday as E&C health care leaders continue to highlight the committee’s efforts to rebuild our health care system. Be sure to check out the column by full committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) in Morning Consult on Tuesday. [[{"fid":"2222","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"52","width":"311","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] February 1, 2017 Three Reforms to Strengthen Medicaid and Prioritize the Most Vulnerable By Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), and Bill Flores (R-TX) Medicaid is a critically important safety net program that serves the most vulnerable in every community and it is imperative that these vital tax dollars are spent taking care of those in the greatest need. Today, the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee will examine three commonsense reforms, authored by us individually, to ensure Medicaid is working for those it serves. The bills cover a range of issues within the program, but work toward the common goal of strengthening the program so beneficiaries can make the most of these important benefits. Medicaid is meant to help the most vulnerable amongst us — not high-dollar lottery winners. However, under current law, lottery winnings are counted as income only in the month they are received. That means even multi-million dollar jackpot winners are allowed to stay on their state’s Medicaid program over the longer-term, if they do not have other sources of income. This provides an undue burden for taxpayers, forcing folks to pay for the health care benefits of newly-minted millionaires. The Prioritizing the Most Vulnerable Over Lottery Winners Act of 2017, authored by Rep. Upton, is a reasonable solution to this problem. This bill would alter how Medicaid eligibility is determined for those lucky enough to hit it big playing the lottery while continuing to prioritize the low-income population the program is meant to serve. The Close Annuity Loopholes in Medicaid Act, authored by Rep. Mullin, is another bill that helps strengthen Medicaid by ensuring individuals with significant means are not burdening taxpayers instead of paying for their own care. The CALM Act saves money in Medicaid by getting rid of a loophole certain married couples use to intentionally shelter their assets by creating annuities. The Government Accountability Office reported that some spouses on Medicaid are masking resources of over $1 million. By pursuing policies like the CALM Act, we can ensure that Medicaid coverage is for the truly needy – rather than providing care for those masking their high income. And finally, while Medicaid generally does provide coverage for individuals who are not lawfully present in the U.S., a small provision of law forces states to provide temporary coverage for 90 days for individuals who apply for coverage – even if they cannot prove they are here legally. The Verify Eligibility Coverage Act, authored by Rep. Flores, addresses this abuse of hardworking taxpayer dollars by simply preventing states from being allowed to claim federal funds for the purpose of providing for Medicaid coverage unless applicants have provided satisfactory evidence of citizenship or eligible immigration status.  These three bills are sensible policies that most Americans support. Medicaid is an important program, relied upon by those in need of our assistance. In order to help prioritize the most vulnerable, a portion of the savings from each of these bills would be given to States to help remove patients from Medicaid waiting lists. As we work to rebuild our health care system, today’s check-up on the Medicaid program is an important step in the right direction. By pursuing these straightforward improvements and other reforms, we can maximize our dollars while helping improve the quality of care our most vulnerable citizens receive. To read the column online, click HERE. ###   Read More

#SubOversight Examines Medicaid Expansion

2017/01/31

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), today held a hearing examining the expansion of the Medicaid program under Obamacare. The Medicaid program faces serious challenges – skyrocketing costs, reports of fraud schemes, and eligibility determination errors are just a few of the problems plaguing the program and threatening health care services for those who need it the most. Given these challenges, today’s hearing served as a check-up to see if the program is appropriately serving the most vulnerable. Witnesses offered testimony showing how the federal matching rate provides more funding for individuals who are newly eligible, while providing less funding for traditional Medicaid populations – low income children, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities. In a series of questions to Ms. Carolyn Yocom, Director of Health Care at GAO, Chairman Murphy asked about Medicaid eligibility determination errors based on a GAO report from last fall and CMS’ freeze on measuring eligibility determinations from Medicaid. When asked what this freeze means, Ms. Yocom said, “It means we’re relying on an error rate that’s about three or four years old… And that we don’t right now know what’s going on with the eligibility determinations.” Mr. Josh Archambault, Senior Fellow, The Foundation for Government Accountability, testified citing the “nearly 600,000 individuals [who] sit on waiting lists for Medicaid services.” In several lines of questioning, some Democrats raised concerns about these wait lists. Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) reiterated the importance of this figure, saying it emphasizes the need to ensure that the program dollars are being spent to serve the most vulnerable populations. Full committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) inquired about the Medicaid program being branded as “high-risk” since 2003, asking where that categorization came from. Witness from GAO and HHS OIG both cited the lack of data as the chief problem. Both Ms. Yocom and Ms. Ann Maxwell, Assistant Inspector General, Office of Evaluation and Inspections, HHS OIG, indicated that the lawmakers could expect to see some new work in the future regarding how better data can be collected and how to account for beneficiaries who may have been previously eligible. A background memo, witness testimony, and an archived webcast of the markup can be found on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s website here. ### Read More

Medicaid Oversight: Existing Problems and Ways to Strengthen the Program

2017/01/31

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Walden and Burgess Kick Off E&C Health Care Reform Agenda

2017/01/31

Heading into a week with three Obamacare hearings before two Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittees, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) today took to Morning Consult to highlight the committee’s February agenda. “Right off the bat, our committee will start by advancing solutions that rebuild the insurance markets and strengthen the Medicaid program for the most vulnerable,” write Walden and Burgess. “Make no mistake, we can’t do this alone. But by working together – with patients and families, doctors and nurses, manufacturers and distributors, hospitals and outpatient clinics – we can reach our mutual goal of helping people live healthier lives and giving every American a new opportunity to get affordable health care coverage.” Stay tuned Wednesday and Thursday as E&C health care leaders continue to highlight the committee’s efforts to repeal Obamacare and rebuild our health care system. [[{"fid":"2214","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"52","width":"311","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] January 31, 2017 Repealing Obamacare and Rebuilding Our Health Care System By Chairmen Greg Walden (R-OR) and Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) It’s an exciting time for our country. With a unified Republican government in place, the coming months are shaping up to be a busy time working to put real solutions in place to help the American people. At the forefront of the agenda is repealing Obamacare and rebuilding our health care system in order to provide quality health care, at an affordable price, to the citizens of our country. It’s no small task, but one we are committed to doing — and doing right. What the American people wanted is starkly different from what they received. They were told “reform” would help everyone, but now only 4 percent of Americans are currently receiving coverage through an Obamacare exchange, while millions have been harmed. Americans never wanted a complete government takeover or to lose the doctor they trusted. They didn’t ask for federal bureaucrats to get in the middle of their health care choices. They didn’t want to lose their jobs or have their paychecks reduced because federal mandates encouraged their employers to cut back their hours. And most importantly, they did not want false promises about access and costs.   The reality is that 21 states have seen average premium increases of 25 percent or more. Seven states have seen increases of 50 percent or more. In 2016, there were 225 counties with just one insurer. This year, it is 1,022 counties with just one insurer. Five entire states just have one insurer offering coverage on the exchanges.   From the collapsing co-ops to the failures of Healthcare.gov, Obamacare has let down the American people. We are an ambulance crew that has arrived at the scene of a bad accident with multiple injuries. We have to stop the bleeding, resuscitate patients, and stabilize victims. Not every passenger in every wrecked vehicle requires the same treatment. In fact, some require no treatment at all. It’s our job to sort it all out and deliver relief where it’s needed. So this month, the American people can expect to see Congress working for them. The House Energy and Commerce Committee will have a critical role in that effort and we’re getting to work right away with three hearings this week — one before our Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee and two before our Health Subcommittee. Working with the Trump administration, we’ll take a multi-step, multi-pronged approach to deliver relief and rebuild our health care system so it works for patients. In fact, President Donald Trump’s first major executive order made clear that he is ready to do all in his power to throw a life preserver to American families who are paying more and getting less. The president and our colleagues here in Congress are committed to an important objective — helping make health care accessible for everyone. In this process, there will be a stability period so that no one receiving coverage under Obamacare has the rug pulled out from underneath them. This is not only fair, but also a commitment from the president, himself. We want to build a 21st-century health care system that is patient-centered and that makes affordable, high-quality care accessible to all Americans.  This week, Chairman Walden will introduce a bill that maintains protections for those with pre-existing conditions. We will also work toward solutions to allow kids to stay on their parent’s insurance — an idea that Republicans supported even before Obamacare became law. And we will strengthen and expand successful programs such as Health Savings Accounts. Right off the bat, our committee will start by advancing solutions that rebuild the insurance markets and strengthen the Medicaid program for the most vulnerable.   Make no mistake, we can’t do this alone. But by working together — with patients and families, doctors and nurses, manufacturers and distributors, hospitals and outpatient clinics — we can reach our mutual goal of helping people live healthier lives and giving every American a new opportunity to get affordable health care coverage. This is our opportunity to repair a broken system that will make a difference in the daily lives of every American. We know there is a Better Way. Together we can make it happen. To read the column online, click HERE. ###   Read More

Walden: More Questions than Answers About FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations

2017/01/27

Following a request by committee leaders in September 2016, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) says there continue to be more questions than answers regarding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI). In pointing to FDA’s delayed response, Chairman Walden flagged the fact that the agency failed to include basic information like a copy of their performance plan or details on how strategic investigative priorities were chosen or ranked. [[{"fid":"2205","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"61","width":"233","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] January 26, 2017 House lawmaker seeks more documents in FDA criminal office inquiry A top U.S. lawmaker accused the Food and Drug Administration on Friday of failing to hand over documents that would show whether its criminal office is fulfilling the critical mission of protecting public health. "The FDA's long-overdue response leaves key questions unanswered about the performance and effectiveness of the FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations," House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden told Reuters in a statement. An FDA spokeswoman did not have an immediate comment. Walden's comments come about four months after the congressional panel launched an examination into the criminal office and how it was managing cases involving food, drugs and devices. The review came after Reuters reported that FDA agents were concerned that managers, including former OCI Director George Karavetsos, were forcing them to pursue often toothless cases involving mislabeled foreign-imported injectable drugs, at the expense of cases with more potential to protect the public health. The agents said they had become the "Botox Police" and were spending hours chasing down doctors who purchased authentic versions of Allergan's popular anti-wrinkle drug that were labeled for use in other countries. Those concerns came at a time when the office was seeing more than half its opened cases ultimately get closed without action, Reuters found. Reuters also reported on how the FDA permitted Karavetsos to relocate back to Florida in mid-2016 and run the OCI from its Miami office, even after the FDA had already paid more than $25,000 to move him to Maryland in 2015. The FDA did not meet the committee's October deadline to provide written answers to questions until Jan. 19. The next day, Karavetsos departed to work for DLA Piper where he will represent drug and device industry clients. In its letter reviewed by Reuters, the FDA listed its investigative priorities and said that traditional metrics used to gauge success, such as arrests and convictions, cannot capture the impact of its public health mission. It also provided annual data on arrests, convictions, and the number of opened cases. However, it omitted preliminary-stage investigative numbers from the total number of cases opened each year, which makes the conviction rate appear higher, according to a side-by-side comparison. Walden said the FDA did not provide a performance plan, among other things. He also complained of redactions on a separate record, which according to a committee aide contained salary and compensation information for Karavetsos. To read the article online, click HERE. ### Read More

Walden Set to Introduce Bill Protecting Patients with Pre-Existing Conditions

2017/01/27

Between meetings at the bicameral Republican retreat in Philadelphia, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) joined CNN’s Jake Tapper to give an update on efforts to repeal Obamacare and rebuild our health care system. Citing recent discussions with governors, Chairman Walden shared the desire for increased flexibility. “Every governor in there asked for that,” said Chairman Walden. In previewing what can be expected among the Republican reform efforts this year, Chairman Walden highlighted the importance of ensuring that patients with pre-existing conditions get the coverage and care they need. “We want to make sure that people with pre-existing conditions continue to get covered,” Chairman Walden told Jake Tapper. “In fact, I’ll introduce a bill next week that will provide and reaffirm that commitment from Republicans.” Efforts to deliver these reforms will be front and center next week with three subcommittee hearings – one before #SubOversight on Tuesday, one before #SubHealth on Wednesday, and one before #SubHealth on Thursday. [[{"fid":"2199","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"117","width":"183","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] GOP: We want to give states flexibility in new health care plan January 26, 2017 [[{"fid":"2200","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"263","width":"468","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] To watch the interview, click HERE. ### Read More

HEARING: #SubHealth to Examine Insurance Reforms NEXT WEEK

2017/01/26

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), announced a hearing for Thursday, February 2, 2017, at 10:30 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled, “Patient Relief from Collapsing Health Markets.” The hearing will examine four practical bills to give patients cost relief from Obamacare, tighten enrollment gaps, and protect taxpayers. Specifically, the bills will help bring younger and healthier patients into the insurance system by loosening age rating bands, ensure patients with pre-existing conditions are not denied coverage or care, require verification before a patient signs up for a plan outside of the standard open enrollment period, end the gaming of health insurance rules by minimizing the grace periods that have led to risk imbalance and potential misuse, and protect patients from premium increases if they maintain coverage. “These fairness reforms launch our efforts to replace the failed policies of the so-called ‘Affordable Care Act’ and help patients have true choices,” said Chairman Burgess. “As we work to bring relief to patients and families suffering the burdens of President Obama’s health law, these bills will act as a part of the solution to stop the leaks before we replace the pipes.” The Majority Memorandum, witness list, and witness testimony for the hearing will be available here as they are posted. ### Read More

HEARING: Next Week #SubCommTech to Take Holistic Look at NTIA

2017/01/26

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, chaired by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), announced a hearing for Thursday, February 2, 2017, at 10:45 a.m. in room 2322 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled, “Reauthorization of NTIA.” The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) was established in 1978 and the administrator is tasked with serving as the president’s principal advisor on communications policy. The NTIA administrator is the coordinator of government spectrum allocations, and the voice of the administration at the Federal Communications Commission and in Congress on communications and information policy. Despite NTIA’s important role, Congress has not reauthorized it since 1992. Next week members will take a holistic look at the NTIA with an eye toward updating the NTIA Organization Act for the 21st Century. “Given NTIA’s critical role in communications policy and the fact it hasn’t been reauthorized since 1992, it’s past time for us to take a thorough, comprehensive look at the NTIA,” said Chairman Blackburn. “I’m looking forward to discussing NTIA’s work on spectrum allocation, ICANN activities, and what steps we can take to ensure America remains competitive in today’s digital environment.” The Majority Memorandum, witness list, and witness testimony for the hearing will be available here as they are posted. ###  Read More

Upton & Shimkus on Svinicki’s Appointment to Head Nuclear Regulatory Commission

2017/01/26

WASHINGTON, DC – Subcommittee on Energy Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Subcommittee on Environment Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) today issued the following statement after Kristine Svinicki was named Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). “We congratulate Commissioner Kristine Svinicki’s designation as the new Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The NRC plays a vital role in overseeing our nation’s fleet of commercial nuclear power plants, as well as many other uses of radioactive technology throughout our economy. We are confident Commissioner Svinicki will bring exceptional leadership to the organization,” said Upton and Shimkus. “We also appreciate the service of Chairman Stephen Burns during the two years of his tenure as NRC Chairman. Chairman Burns guided the 'Project Aim 2020' initiative to properly align the agency’s budget and staffing with the licensing and regulatory needs of NRC’s licensees. We look forward to continuing to work with him as a Commissioner to see his important initiative fully implemented.” ###  Read More

HEARING: #SubHealth to Examine Ways to Strengthen Medicaid for Most Vulnerable NEXT WEEK

2017/01/25

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), announced a hearing for Wednesday, February 1, 2017, at 10 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled, “Strengthening Medicaid and Prioritizing the Most Vulnerable.” The hearing will examine discussion drafts of three commonsense Medicaid reform bills. Similar legislation was introduced by committee members last Congress. These bills include: ending Medicaid benefits for lottery jackpot winners, closing a loophole that lets married couples shelter assets to qualify for Medicaid, and helping states who are forced to provide temporary Medicaid coverage for individuals who are unlawfully present. A portion of the savings from the legislation would be directed to reduce waiting lists for the most vulnerable in the Medicaid program, like those with disabilities. “Medicaid is a critical safety net program that serves some of the most vulnerable patients in our districts. President Obama’s health law upended the longstanding federal-state partnership of the Medicaid program by prioritizing able-bodied adults over those most in need,” said Chairman Burgess. “It is critical that Congress refocus taxpayer dollars on the most vulnerable to ensure that they get the care they need. These bills are a great start in our effort to rebuild our health care system, clean up the mess left by the previous administration, and improve the Medicaid program.” The Majority Memorandum, witness list, and witness testimony for the hearing will be available here as they are posted. ### Read More

Latta on Appointment of Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen as Acting Chairman of FTC

2017/01/25

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chairman Bob Latta (R-OH) issued the following statement after President Donald J. Trump designated Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen as Acting Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today. "With a new president and administration in place, it's time we shift focus and begin appointing the right leaders to direct our federal agencies. The FTC is an incredibly important entity -- one that empowers consumers, encourages competition, and promotes innovative businesses here in the U.S. "Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen has a long and distinguished history at this agency, and I am glad to see the change in leadership and subsequent change in direction at the FTC that will follow. I look forward to working with her during this period of transition as we protect consumers and work to eliminate unfair business practices." Read More

#SubEnergy to Examine Electricity Sector’s Efforts to Respond to Cybersecurity Threats

2017/01/25

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Energy, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), today announced a hearing for Wednesday, February 1, 2017, at 10:15 a.m. in room 2322 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled, “The Electricity Sector’s Efforts to Respond to Cybersecurity Threats.” Recent events have increased public attention to the risks posed by cyber threats to the electricity grid. In 2015, Congress signed into law the FAST Act, which included provisions authored by this committee that provide new authorities to address grid security emergencies and to facilitate the protection and voluntary sharing of critical electric infrastructure information between private sector asset owners and the federal government. Members will receive an update from electricity sector experts to examine these developments and the various efforts industry is taking to address current and future threats to the grid. “A dynamic, secure, and integrated electric grid is important to ensuring reliable and affordable electricity for folks back in Michigan and American consumers across the country,” said Chairman Upton. “As the committee prepares its upcoming agenda, it’s important that members and the public understand the electricity sector’s current efforts in planning, responding, and mitigating cyber risks.” The Majority Memorandum, witness list, and witness testimony for the hearing will be available here as they are posted. ###  Read More

Letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Regarding Set-Top Box Proceeding

2017/01/25

Excerpt: "We believe that the best way to foster real choice in video programming delivery and bring consumers the services they want is to permit these innovations to flourish in all parts of the video ecosystem, not through a top-down Federal mandate. Accordingly, we urge you to close this proceeding and permit this industry to innovate and serve consumers free from restrictions of a government-chosen platform.” To read the letter, click here.  Read More

#SubCommTech Members Urge Chairman Pai to Close the Docket on Set-Top Box Proceeding

2017/01/25

WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Energy and Commerce Committee Vice Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX), and all Republican members of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, today sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai requesting that he close the docket on the set-top box proceeding. In their letter to Chairman Pai, members of the subcommittee cite three reasons as to why the docket should close, stating, “First, on a procedural note, the Commission should engage in the healthy practice of closing dockets that are no longer under active debate and consideration. Closing dockets can provide industry and consumers with a clear understanding of the FCC’s assessment and plan of action. … Second, the FCC’s proposal remains an unnecessary regulatory threat to the content creation and distribution industries. …Finally, this docket should be closed to give video programming distributors a clear sign that they can bring technological advances to set-top boxes and video delivery without fear that the Commission overturn them by regulation.” The members conclude, “We believe that the best way to foster real choice in video programming delivery and bring consumers the services they want is to permit these innovations to flourish in all parts of the video ecosystem, not through a top-down Federal mandate. Accordingly, we urge you to close this proceeding and permit this industry to innovate and serve consumers free from restrictions of a government-chosen platform.” To read a copy of the letter, click here. ###  Read More

HEARING: #SubOversight to Examine Medicaid Expansion NEXT WEEK

2017/01/24

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), announced a hearing for Tuesday, January 31, 2017, at 10 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled, “Medicaid Oversight: Existing Problems and Ways to Strengthen the Program.” The Medicaid program faces serious challenges – skyrocketing costs, reports of fraud schemes, and eligibility determination errors are just a few of the problems plaguing the program and threatening health care services for those who need it the most. This hearing will aim to troubleshoot existing problems with the implementation of the Medicaid program and identify ways to strengthen the program. “I can’t think of a better way to kick off subcommittee activity than by examining the realities of the Medicaid program and assessing the impact on American families,” said Chairman Murphy. “As we work to rebuild our broken health care system, we must continue to strive for meaningful reforms to deliver real treatment and Medicaid’s expansion needs to be a part of that conversation.” The Majority Memorandum, witness list, and witness testimony for the hearing will be available here as they are posted. ### Read More

Burgess on House Passage of Bill Blocking Taxpayer Funding of Abortions Under Federal Programs

2017/01/24

WASHINGTON, DC – Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) today issued the following statement after House passage of H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017. “Protecting the lives of the unborn as well as ensuring tens of millions of Americans can honor their consciences has long been a priority for this Republican Congress. This year, under unified government, I am more hopeful than ever we will make the Hyde Amendment permanent, ensuring that taxpayer dollars are not used to fund abortions through critical government programs. The passage of H.R. 7 is an important step in this week’s March for Life, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to quickly follow suit in supporting this measure.” ### Read More

Walden, Upton, and Shimkus Applaud President Trump’s Executive Actions on Pipelines

2017/01/24

WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), Subcommittee on Energy Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), and Subcommittee on Environment Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL), today issued the following statement after President Trump signed executive actions regarding the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines. “We welcome today’s news and we’re looking forward to working with a president and an administration that value American energy affordability, jobs, security, and new infrastructure development,” said Walden, Upton, and Shimkus. “It is time for the federal government to stop picking winners and losers in the energy sector.” ###  Read More

#ObamacareRealityCheck on the Ground

2017/01/24

As Energy and Commerce Committee members toured their districts last week, Obamacare continued to be a topic of conversation. [[{"fid":"2183","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"212","width":"378","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) meets with local health care leaders to talk health care reform. While Rep. Hudson met with health care leaders and providers, Rep. Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN) talked health care reform with constituents who have been hurt by the law. Bill Treadway described how his previous insurance plan was thrown away under Obamacare. “I had to get a second job and sometimes a third job, and it made it very difficult.” “My deductible went from $2,500 to $6,000 so it wasn’t even worth it,” said Kyle Hoffman. [[{"fid":"2184","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"232","width":"319","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] Rep. Bucshon’s roundtable discussion with constituents. Bob Baesler described his issues as an employer providing coverage. ”We helped them get the coverage, we raised their pay to offset the premium. The problem was because there was not payroll deduction, which the government would not allow, many employees at the end of the month, with the premium there even though it was not very much, had a light bill and (used the premium money) to pay the light bill. Then their premium lapsed and they were out,” said Baesler, whose company initially had about 70 employees with coverage under the health care law. Today that number is around 14. House Republicans have a Better Way to deliver meaningful health care reforms that actually follow through on affordability and patient choice. The House acted earlier this month to start the process of repealing Obamacare so we can rebuild our health care system. As Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Walden (R-OR) stated after the vote on the FY 2017 Budget Resolution, “critical work lies ahead, and we are up to the task of delivering badly needed relief for patients.” ###   Read More

House Advances Eleven Energy and Commerce Committee Bills

2017/01/23

[[{"fid":"2189","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"168","width":"320","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]]   WASHINGTON, DC – The House of Representatives today passed eleven Energy and Commerce Committee bills, furthering the committee’s proven record of success. The House of Representatives passed four public health bills and two other committee bills earlier this month. “Energy and Commerce has always been known as a legislative workhorse and we’ve hit the ground running in the 115th Congress,”said full committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR). “House passage of these eleven bipartisan bills coupled with the six house-passed Energy and Commerce Committee bills approved earlier this month demonstrates the committee’s dedication to advancing thoughtful, bipartisan solutions. I’m hopeful the Senate takes swift action on these commonsense bills.” H.R. 290, Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2017, sponsored by Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), would make the FCC more efficient, transparent, and accountable through reforming the commission’s processes and ensuring the FCC regulates in an innovative and dynamic way. H.R. 290 passed the House unanimously by voice vote.  [[{"fid":"2193","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"123","width":"216","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] Click HERE to watch Chairman Walden’s remarks on H.R. 290  H.R. 423, Anti-Spoofing Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), would 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. 423 passed the House 398-5. H.R 460, Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. David Young (R-IA), would require intermediate providers to register with the Federal Communications Commission and comply with the service quality standards set by the agency in order to improve call quality from long distance or wireless calls in rural areas throughout the country. H.R. 460 passed the House unanimously by voice vote. H.R. 511, Power and Security Systems (PASS) Act, sponsored by committee member Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), would provide an exemption from energy use restrictions for equipment that needs to be on at all times, such as security or fire alarms. H.R. 511 passed the House unanimously by voice vote. H.R. 518, EPS Improvement Act of 2017, sponsored by committee member Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), would exempt certain lighting and ceiling fan technology from an onerous Department of Energy regulation. H.R. 518 passed the House unanimously by voice vote. H.R. 555, Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2017, sponsored by committee member Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), would instruct the FCC to adopt rules that protect the rights of amateur radio operators to use radio equipment in deed-restricted communities. H.R. 555 passed the House unanimously by voice vote. H.R. 582, Kari’s Law Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), would require that any multi-line telephone system connects directly to 911 when dialed, even in instances where the phone requires the user to dial “9” to get an outside line. H.R. 582 passed the House 408-0. H.R. 587, Fair RATES Act, sponsored by committee member Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-MA), would amend the Federal Power Act to provide opportunities for rehearing of orders affecting rates, even in instances where rates become effective by operation of law. H.R. 587 passed the House unanimously by voice vote. H.R. 588, Securing Access to Networks in Disaster Act, sponsored by full committee Ranking Member Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), would create requirements for mobile service providers during emergencies to ensure that consumers have access to networks during disasters, and requires the FCC and GAO to examine the resiliency of networks during these events. In addition, it amends the Stafford Act to ensure all categories of communications service providers may access disaster sites to restore service. H.R. 588 passed the House unanimously by voice vote. H.R. 590, Advanced Nuclear Technology Development Act of 2017, sponsored by committee member Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH), would require the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to develop the regulatory framework needed for safe, advanced nuclear energy technologies and requires the Department of Energy and the NRC to collaborate, where appropriate, in order to develop advanced nuclear technology by maintaining technical expertise and shared facility usage. H.R. 590 passed the House unanimously by voice vote. H.R. 599, Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act of 2017, sponsored by committee member and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), would consolidate eight separate reports at the FCC into a single, comprehensive overview of the communications marketplace, reducing reporting burdens and encouraging the agency to analyze competition in the marketplace. H.R 599 passed the House unanimously by voice vote.  ### Read More

Walden and Blackburn Statement on Pai's Appointment to Head FCC

2017/01/23

WASHINGTON, DC –  Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) today issued the following statement after Ajit Pai was designated to serve as the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). “Today we welcome a new era of leadership and decision making at the FCC,” said Chairman Walden and Subcommittee Chairman Blackburn. “Commissioner Pai’s expertise on the issues has been well documented and we’re looking forward to working with him to advance conservative, thoughtful solutions at the FCC.” ### Read More

Walden Statement on Rep. Pompeo Confirmation as CIA Director

2017/01/23

WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) today issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Rep. Pompeo has been a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee since 2011. “Mike has always served with passion, honor and integrity,” said Chairman Walden. “A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and member of the House Intelligence Committee, he has demonstrated his commitment and faithful devotion to this country. As Director of the CIA, I am certain that he will lead our country in the same manner – placing the safety and security of America first and ensuring the strength of our intelligence community.”   Read More

Burgess Comments on President Trump’s Executive Action Reinstating Mexico City Policy

2017/01/23

WASHINGTON, DC – Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) today issued the following statement after President Trump took executive action to reinstate the Mexico City Policy, which will ban the performing and promotion of abortion services for all foreign non-governmental organizations. “I can think of no better time to take this important action than the day after the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and as we prepare for the March for Life this week. Life is a precious and sacred gift, and we must do all we can to protect it. I applaud President Trump for taking this important action and look forward to continuing to work together in advancing pro-life policies and protecting taxpayer dollars.” ### Read More

Walden Comments on President Trump’s Executive Action Addressing Burdens of Obamacare

2017/01/21

WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) today issued the following statement after President Trump took executive action to begin offering relief from the burdens of Obamacare to the American people. “It is heartening to see President Trump take immediate action to begin undoing the damage caused by Obamacare. The American people desperately need relief from this law that is crumbling before our eyes, and the Energy and Commerce Committee stands ready to work alongside the administration to deliver it. In the coming weeks, we will repeal Obamacare and begin rebuilding our broken health care system and cleaning up the mess left behind by the previous administration.” ###  Read More

NEW REPORT: Nonpartisan Government Watchdog Cautions CMS to Halt Phase-In of Encounter Data Program to Ensure Proper Medicare Advantage Payments

2017/01/19

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report highlighting the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) insufficient progress implementing the encounter data system, a critical component of administering proper Medicare Advantage payments. The report reveals that, despite GAO’s 2014 recommendations, CMS has yet to take critical steps to ensure the encounter data system accurately acquires diagnostic information, making the Medicare Advantage program vulnerable to improper payments and wasted Medicare dollars. Based on the report’s findings, the GAO recommends that CMS validate the accuracy and completeness of the encounter data it receives before using it for Medicare payment purposes. Following the release of the report, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) said: “This report raises more concerns about the encounter data system and whether it is ready to perform its duties. While some improvements have been made since GAO’s 2014 report, key recommendations from the government watchdog have yet to be implemented. I support the GAO’s urging that CMS should fully assess its data quality before implementing, so we can best serve beneficiaries in need of care.” Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) said: “This new GAO study proves once again that the encounter data system is not ready for full implementation. While the system was created to ensure proper payments for the millions of seniors who rely on Medicare Advantage, it will not work with incomplete and inaccurate data and could lead to higher premiums or reduced benefits down the road. CMS must ensure this important system is based on the right information so taxpayer dollars are going to Medicare recipients who need them most.”   Background: The encounter data system was created to ensure Medicare beneficiaries receive proper payments. On March 4, 2016, leaders of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Ways and Means Committee sent a letter to CMS expressing concerns with the encounter data system. Then-Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), then-Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), and then-Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) requested the GAO report on September 22, 2015. CLICK HERE to read the full GAO report. ### Read More

Walden, Pallone Applaud FDA’s Establishment of Oncology Center of Excellence

2017/01/19

WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) today welcomed the FDA’s establishment of an Oncology Center of Excellence. The announcement, part of Vice President Biden’s cancer moonshot initiative, is the culmination of the FDA’s June 2016 announcement to create the first-of-its-kind center. “The launch of the FDA Oncology Center of Excellence is a key component of 21st Century Cures, a bipartisan law changing the way we treat disease,” said Chairman Walden and Ranking Member Pallone. “As the first designated center with a coordinated review of treatments and care, patients battling cancer will have – and should have – a renewed sense of hope and optimism.” Last summer, then-Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Pallone introduced H.R. 5414, the FDA Cross-Center Collaboration Act of 2016. The bipartisan bill sought to modernize the agency to help streamline the review of drugs and devices for major disease areas across product centers. The establishment of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence is consistent with this previous legislation, which would help accelerate the discovery, development and delivery of new cures and treatments. ### Read More

Energy & Commerce to Hold Committee Organizational Meeting TUESDAY

2017/01/19

WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) today announced that the Energy and Commerce Committee’s formal organizational meeting for the 115th Congress will take place Tuesday, January 24, 2017, at 1 p.m. in room 2167 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The meeting will include the adoption of Committee Rules, the formal appointment of subcommittee leadership and member rosters, and adoption of the resolution setting forth subcommittee jurisdiction. The committee will also markup the Committee Authorization and Oversight Plan. The agenda for Tuesday is as follows: Adoption of the Committee Rules; Adoption of Subcommittee Jurisdictions; Appointment of Republican Subcommittee Chairmen, Vice Chairmen, and Subcommittee Members; Appointment of Democratic Subcommittee Ranking Members and Subcommittee Members; and Adoption of the Committee’s Authorization and Oversight Plan for the 115th Congress. Additional information on the proceedings and a copy of the Committee Rules and Authorization and Oversight Plan will be posted here when available. ###  Read More

PAGING POTUS: Last Call to Answer E&C’s Oversight Questions

2017/01/19

WASHINGTON, DC – As Obamacare approaches its seventh birthday, Congress has more questions than answers about the president’s signature law. Last March, we highlighted some of our own birthday wishes for the failed law (spoiler alert: they haven’t come true). But the wishes highlight another element of Congress’ concerns about Obamacare – the administration’s disregard for transparency and communication. The lengths the Obama administration has gone to stonewall Congress about key programs under Obamacare is unprecedented. In doing so, they’ve sought to prop up the health care law as insurers flee the markets and Americans experience #RateShock. Obamacare’s “Bermuda Triangle,” composed of the unlawful reinsurance payments and unauthorized payments for the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) program and the basic health program (BHP), is just as mysterious as the real deal. The American people deserve answers. Here’s a look at some of the committee’s top questions that have yet to be answered by the administration. On reinsurance… Why did the administration reverse its regulations regarding the implementation of the reinsurance program? In 2015, CMS reversed its own regulations to divert funds intended for the U.S. Treasury to insurance companies instead. Because of this, CMS has illegally paid out $3.5 billion in payments to insurance companies through the program. Who conducted the legal analysis for this decision? Both the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Research Service issued opinions finding that CMS did not have the authority to divert funds from the Treasury. Who was responsible for making the decision about the policy change? CMS has refused to provide documents regarding the decision-making behind the policy change, even after the committee issued a subpoena. Since earlier rules had already anticipated what to do in the event of a shortfall of collections, what was the legal basis for the policy change? CMS has been unable to give the committee any legitimate reason for the rule change.  On the CSR Program… Why did the administration request funding for the CSR program in the FY 2014 budget before quietly withdrawing the request? After requesting an annual appropriation for the CSR program the administration withdrew the request over the telephone instead of going through the formal amendment process. The administration argues that an annual appropriation was not required and has failed to explain why the budget request was made and then withdrawn. The administration spent an estimated $13 billion on the program, without a lawful appropriation.   How was the permanent appropriation identified as a source of funding for the CSR program? The administration has not informed the committee how the permanent appropriation was identified, or who first identified the account. Documents reviewed by the committee indicate that the account had been identified as a possible source of funding by the end of July 2013. Did sequestration play a role in the administration’s decision to fund the CSR program through the permanent appropriation for tax credits and refunds? Documents reviewed by the committee indicate that alleviating the stress of a potential sequestration cut on the CSR program may have played a role in the source of funding decision.  Who at the White House and the Department of Justice was involved in these decisions? Witnesses testified that individuals at the White House and the Department of Justice played a role in the source of funding decision, but the Obama administration did not allow witnesses to tell the committee which individuals were involved. On BHP… How did the administration decide to fund the BHP through the permanent appropriation for tax refunds and credits? The administration illegally spent $1.3 billion to fund the program from a permanent appropriation used for tax refunds. This is the same funding account that the administration also used to fund the CSR program. What was the legal basis for providing this funding? The committee has requested documents from HHS for years, but the agency has refused to produce the documents, even after the committee issued a subpoena. ### Read More

E&C Continues to Press for Accountability, Safety at Nation’s Labs

2017/01/18

On Tuesday, Energy and Commerce Committee leaders pressed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for copies of unredacted documents that recently made news for detailing previously unreported lab incidents with dangerous pathogens. “Those incidents, detailed in heavily-redacted records recently obtained by USA TODAY, include an apparently lost box of deadly influenza specimens, potential exposures to viruses and bacteria, and a purified air hose suddenly disconnecting from a scientist’s full-body spacesuit-like gear while working in a lab that handles the world’s most deadly pathogens,” explains USA Today. “‘It is vital for the safety of CDC lab scientists and for the public that the CDC has a full picture of all incidents involving dangerous germs such as anthrax, Ebola, plague, and possibly the reconstituted flu strain that caused 50 million deaths in the 1918 pandemic,’ Walden and Murphy said in a statement to USA TODAY.” [[{"fid":"2175","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"66","width":"288","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] January 17, 2017 Congress demands details of secret CDC lab incidents revealed by USA TODAY Congressional watchdogs are concerned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t told them about all of the agency’s laboratory accidents, and they want a full accounting in the wake of a USA TODAY report about mishaps the agency tried to keep secret. Those incidents, detailed in heavily-redacted records recently obtained by USA TODAY, include an apparently lost box of deadly influenza specimens, potential exposures to viruses and bacteria, and a purified air hose suddenly disconnecting from a scientist’s full-body spacesuit-like gear while working in a lab that handles the world’s most deadly pathogens. But after taking nearly two years to release the reports about incidents that occurred from 2013 to 2015, the CDC blacked out large swaths of information when accidents involved particularly dangerous pathogens, such as anthrax, Ebola and certain deadly strains of influenza. In a letter sent Tuesday, leaders of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce have given the CDC until the end of the month to give them a list of all lab safety incidents at the agency since 2012. The committee also wants an unredacted version of the 503 pages of lab incident reports the CDC released to USA TODAY under the Freedom of Information Act. In many of the records , the CDC cited a 2002 bioterrorism law and removed information including the types of pathogens involved and descriptions of what happened. “Because of the redactions, it is difficult to know whether the CDC has previously disclosed the incidents described in the USA Today article to the Committee. However the details in the article seem to indicate that most, if not all, of these incidents were not disclosed to the Committee,” said the letter to CDC director Tom Frieden. It was signed by committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy, R-Pa. CDC officials were not immediately available for comment. If the incidents weren’t previously disclosed to the committee, it would be the second time in seven months that USA TODAY’s Freedom of Information Act requests have revealed that the CDC has not given members of Congress all of the information they’ve requested. The committee has held several hearings in recent years examining serious safety lapses at the CDC and other federal labs, as well as the adequacy of federal oversight programs. “It is vital for the safety of CDC lab scientists and for the public that the CDC has a full picture of all incidents involving dangerous germs such as anthrax, Ebola, plague, and possibly the reconstituted flu strain that caused 50 million deaths in the 1918 pandemic,” Walden and Murphy said in a statement to USA TODAY. … To read the full article online, click HERE. ### Read More

Blackburn Introduces Legislation to Address Onerous FCC Requirements

2017/01/17

WASHINGTON, DC – Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) today introduced H.R.__, a bill to direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to revoke certain changes to the ownership reporting requirements for noncommercial educational broadcast stations. The FCC last year voted to overhaul their ownership requirements to improve minority ownership of broadcast stations. While most of the changes were reasonable, the FCC imposed unnecessary and burdensome ownership rules on non-commercial educational (NCEs) broadcasters. Under these reporting requirements NCEs are required to include their board members as owners, raising privacy concerns, among other things. This legislation would repeal the new reporting requirements for NCE board members but will continue to require NCEs to report basic ownership information. “Public broadcasters from across the country have expressed their reasonable privacy concerns with these onerous FCC requirements,” said Chairman Blackburn. “This commonsense bill would remove a useless barrier that would prevent qualified and dedicated people from serving as board members to these vital local broadcast stations.” ###  Read More

Walden and Murphy Press CDC for Unredacted Documents Detailing Secret Lab Incidents With Dangerous Pathogens

2017/01/17

WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee leaders today sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requesting more information on a series of lab incidents involving select agents, as reported by USA Today. The letter was sent by full committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA). A recent USA Today article included redacted documents reporting laboratory incidents involving dangerous pathogens that can cause anthrax, Ebola, plague, or certain avian or flu virus strains. The committee has a history of conducting rigorous oversight of the Federal Select Agent Program and actively monitoring lab safety measures.  “…[T]he details in the article seem to indicate that most, if not all, of these incidents were not disclosed to the Committee. To fully understand the effectiveness of current CDC lab safety efforts, the Committee needs a complete picture of the lab safety record at the CDC in recent years,” wrote Walden and Murphy.” Committee leaders continued, “To assist the Committee’s oversight efforts, we request that the CDC provide a briefing to Committee staff about the lab safety incidents reported in the January 4, 2017 USA Today article and any additional incidents covered in the 503 pages of documents that the CDC provided in response to USA Today’s FOIA request. The briefing would also cover the CDC tracking systems for lab safety incidents.” The committee leaders requested the briefing and information by January 31, 2017. Click HERE to read a copy of the letter. ### Read More

Letter to CDC Requesting Unredacted Documents Regarding Lab Incidents with Dangerous Pathogens

2017/01/17

Excerpt: "…[T]he details in the article seem to indicate that most, if not all, of these incidents were not disclosed to the Committee. To fully understand the effectiveness of current CDC lab safety efforts, the Committee needs a complete picture of the lab safety record at the CDC in recent years." To read a copy of the letter, click HERE. Read More

Nonpartisan Watchdog: FDA Still Lacks Inspection Data on Almost 1,000 Foreign Drug Firms Shipping to U.S.

2017/01/17

WASHINGTON, DC – The non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) today issued a new report acknowledging that while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made some important improvements to its foreign drug inspection program, there are still serious data gaps on foreign drug firms shipping finished drug products and active drug ingredients to the United States. GAO also identified that additional work also needs to be done to better assess the effectiveness and staffing of FDA’s foreign offices, noting that 46 percent of the positions at the FDA foreign offices are vacant and that the vacancies have been a persistent problem. Among the areas of improvement, the GAO found that FDA has increased its foreign drug inspections and improved their mechanisms for doing so, including the accuracy of the catalog of drug facilities subject to inspection. GAO summarized their findings, saying, “It has also reduced its catalog of drug establishments with no inspection history to 33 percent of foreign establishments, compared to 64 percent in 2010. However, the number of such establishments remains large, at almost 1,000 of the approximately 3,000 foreign establishments.” These findings show that the FDA has not resolved the data gap deficiency found by GAO when the FDA inspection program was previously examined in 2010. With 80 percent of U.S. drug ingredients coming from abroad and nearly 40 percent of finished U.S. drugs made overseas, there is reason for concern. This data gap is also of significance because for the first time in FDA history, the agency conducted more foreign drug inspections than domestic inspections in FY 2015. “The FDA has made some significant improvements over the last 10 years to their handling of the foreign drug inspection program, but more work lies ahead,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ). “The gap in foreign drug firms that the FDA has no information on is sizeable and very troubling. Critical work remains, and with these recent improvements, we’re encouraged that these milestones can be reached.” In 2008, GAO reported that the rate of foreign inspections was alarmingly low. For example, in a September 2008 report, GAO found that on average, the agency had only conducted about 247 inspections per year from 2002 through 2007. Today’s report, however, indicates that considerable progress has been made by the agency in increasing the number of foreign inspections, with 842 inspections conducted in 2015.    Eight years ago, FDA established foreign offices around the world that would have great potential to improve the quality and timeliness of foreign drug inspections. However, GAO found that FDA has not assessed its foreign offices’ contributions to drug safety, which is inconsistent with federal standards for internal controls. Accordingly, GAO recommended FDA assess their foreign offices to establish a goal on addressing the vacancy rates in those offices as well as their domestic international program office. To view a copy of the GAO report, click HERE. ### Read More

TODAY: New Memo Shows Outgoing HHS Officials Rammed Through Obamacare Changes in Final Days

2017/01/17

According to a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS), in the waning days of the Obama administration, regulators at HHS finalized actions to ram through Obamacare changes and ensure Obamacare’s critical procedures and programs are locked in to 2019. According to data from CRS, the move to finalize individual program years has been happening earlier and faster in recent years. [[{"fid":"2165","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"246","width":"468","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] To view the infographic, click HERE. “Despite millions of Americans clearly expressing their displeasure with Obamacare, the Obama administration took action on their way out the door to lock in the law’s framework to 2019. The administration’s blatant disregard for the will of the people paired with the law’s broken promises and skyrocketing rates make it easy to see why so many folks are frustrated with business as usual and ready for real change,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR).  [[{"fid":"2164","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"98","width":"405","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] January 17, 2017 Obama issues Obamacare regs for 2018 Just days before President-elect Trump is sworn in, the Obama administration implemented on Tuesday a major regulation that will govern rates and payments to insurers under Obamacare. The rule, which sets the plans that can be sold on the Affordable Care Act's exchanges in 2018, is common and must be issued to give insurers an idea of what to expect for the coming coverage year. However, the Obama administration implemented the regulation much earlier than years past, and some in the GOP are worried it could complicate the incoming administration's efforts to provide regulatory relief to insurers. Normally a rule that has a major financial impact must be implemented 60 days after being published in the Federal Register. The rule was published on Dec. 22 and goes into effect Tuesday, less than a month after publication. The administration implemented it faster by invoking the "good cause" exemption, which lets major rules be implemented earlier than 60 days, according to a House Republican aide, who added that the Trump administration could use the same tool to make quick changes to the rule. … The rule is a normal part of regulating the marketplaces. However, every other rule has been implemented a few months later in the year. For instance, the rule was implemented in May 2014 for the 2015 coverage year. For the 2014 year, the first time the marketplaces went online, the rule went into effect in April 2013, according to a memo from the Congressional Research Service obtained by the Washington Examiner. The rule for the 2016 coverage year was even later. It was finalized in February 2015, but went into effect on Jan. 1, 2016, the memo said. … To read the article online, click HERE. ###   Read More

BLAST FROM THE PAST: 50 States/50 Headlines Underscoring President’s Signature Law is “The Craziest Thing in the World”

2017/01/15

[[{"fid":"2162","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"303","width":"380","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] Pick up any newspaper, and the news continues to get worse by the day for Obamacare. On today's "National Day of Action" to save the president's signature law, Americans are paying a hefty price. Americans continue to voice their concern and outrage with the failed promises of Obamacare. From more Americans losing coverage, to the CO-OP calamity that has crippled the nation and struggling state exchanges, the health law is getting worse—not better—as the years go by. Even more troubling is that as the law falters, the administration is resorting to extraordinary measures, even violating the law to sustain Obamacare. Last fall, the U.S. government’s nonpartisan watchdog issued a legal opinion sounding the alarm that the administration has been illegally diverting billions of dollars in reinsurance payments to insurance companies. The finding echoes other committee concerns about the administration making cost-sharing reduction and basic health program payments without a lawful Congressional appropriation. With limited choices (and five entire states having only one insurer option), skyrocketing premiums, and everything else, it’s no surprise that all 50 states are suffering the ill effects of Obamacare.   Alabamians foot the bill for ObamaCare’s failure as BCBS gears up for 40% rate hike Yellow Hammer News, Alabama Health care falters on the last frontier The Atlantic, Alaska Arizona consumers fret as ‘Obamacare’ insurance options dwindle Arizona Republic, Arizona Largest U.S. health insurer pulls out of health exchanges in Georgia, Arkansas Kaiser Health News, Arkansas California Obamacare rates to rise 13% in 2017, more than three times the increase of last two years LA Times, California Rate hikes proposed for 2017 individual Colorado health care plans Denver Post, Colorado Connecticut health premiums to rise sharply in 2017 The Westerly Sun, Connecticut Delaware insurers seek double-digit rate hikes The News Journal, Delaware State, feds offer conflicting spins on 2017 Obamacare rates St. Augustine Record, Florida Aetna to pull out of Georgia’s Obamacare insurance marketplace Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia Hawaii abandons trouble state ObamaCare exchange Fox News, Hawaii Idaho reveals 2017 health insurance rates: 24 percent higher for individuals Boise Weekly, Idaho Harken to exit Illinois Obamacare exchange Chicago Tribune, Illinois IU Health Plans quits Obamacare exchange, citing ‘heightened financial uncertainty’ Indianapolis Business Journal, Indiana UnitedHealth quits Iowa Obamacare marketplace Des Moines Register, Iowa Kansas state employee health insurance costs to rise for thousands in 2017 The Topeka Capital-Journal, Kansas Baptist Health Plan withdraws from Kentucky’s individual insurance market The Lane Report, Kentucky Louisiana insurers among those seeking Obamacare rate hikes The Times-Picayune, Louisiana Health insurance co-op sues federal government, says it’s owed $22.9 million Portland Press Herald, Maine Health insurers seek rate increases in Maryland as United Healthcare quits market Baltimore Sun, Maryland Massachusetts insurer sues feds over Obamacare program Boston Business Journal, Massachusetts Grand Valley Health Plan getting out of managed care, blames Obamacare MLive, Michigan Individual health plan premiums to jump at least 50 percent in Minn. Star Tribune, Minnesota Health insurance coverage to thin out for 2017 Mississippi Business Journal, Mississippi Health insurers seek rate increases as Missouri readies for regulatory authority St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Missouri Montana health insurers ask for 20-62 percent price increases Montana Public Radio, Montana ‘This has to stop’: Premium costs climb higher because of high utilization of medical care, fees from Obamacare World-Herald, Nebraska Nevada Health CO-OP, now defunct, still causing headaches Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada Another ACA failure bad idea keeps getting worse Union Leader, New Hampshire Health Republic Insurance of New Jersey’s demise exposes flaws of Obamacare The Record, New Jersey Presbyterian Health Plan pulls out of ‘Obamacare’ market Santa Fe New Mexican, New Mexico ObamaCare rates set to skyrocket for most New Yorkers New York Post, New York Blue Cross projects $400M loss in NC on ACA in just two years The Courier-Tribune, North Carolina Sanford Health Plan posts $76.5 million loss for 2015 Grand Forks Herald, North Dakota Obamacare options to shrink for many in Ohio Chillicothe Gazette, Ohio Oklahoma Had Highest Price Increases On Federal Insurance Marketplace Last Year KGOU Public Radio, Oklahoma ‘Cover Oregon’ Cover-Up U.S. News & World Report, Oregon Capital BlueCross to offer fewer Obamacare plans next year LancasterOnline, Pennsylvania R.I.’s health insurance exchange struggles Providence Journal, Rhode Island Health care experts question future of Obamacare marketplace in South Carolina The Post and Courier, South Carolina Health Insurance rates could soar in South Dakota KELO Radio, South Dakota BCBST’s exit from 3 Obamacare markets sends shock waves The Tennessean, Tennessee Obamacare ripples through Texas as health insurers propose steep rate hikes San Antonio Express-News, Texas Humana exiting Utah ACA exchange KTVX TV, ABC, Utah Vermont health professionals opting out of state health care system VermontWatchdog.org, Vermont Why Anthem ObamaCare premiums will soar in Virginia as Humana bolts Investor’s Business Daily, Virginia Rate requests way up for 2017 individual health-care plans The Seattle Times, Washington Real Reform?: Obamacare shows more is not better in healthcare The Journal, West Virginia UnitedHealth confirms exit from Wisconsin Obamacare market Milwaukee Business Journal, Wisconsin Choices dwindling for Obamacare customers CNN, Wyoming ### Read More

Walden on House Passage of Budget Resolution

2017/01/13

WASHINGTON, DC – The House of Representatives today passed the FY 2017 Budget Resolution, an initial step in the effort to repeal Obamacare and reform our health care system. “Today’s vote allows House committees to get to work on repealing Obamacare and rebuilding our health care system. Put simply, Obamacare is a mess. We’re ready to begin advancing solutions that will help families, lower costs, and restore fairness in the relationship between patients and their doctors. Critical work lies ahead, and we are up to the task of delivering badly needed relief for patients,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR). ### Read More

Latta Comments on Takata Settlement

2017/01/13

WASHINGTON, DC – Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chairman Bob Latta (R-OH) today issued the following statement after Takata agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud and reached a settlement with the Department of Justice following its defective airbag scandal.    “While today’s settlement is welcome news it doesn’t change the fact that eleven Americans lost their lives because of Takata’s failures. Unfortunately, defective airbags continue to remain on America’s roadways at the expense of drivers across the country,” said Chairman Latta. “We must work to ensure that NHTSA, Takata, and automakers continue to do everything in their power to get the remaining defective airbags off our roadways for the safety of drivers in Ohio and around the country.” To check if your car is subject to safety recalls please visit https://www.safercar.gov/. ###  Read More

Committee Leaders Comment on EPA’s Emissions Standards for Cars and Light Trucks

2017/01/13

WASHINGTON, DC – Environment Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL), Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chairman Bob Latta (R-OH), and Energy Subcommittee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), today issued the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the Mid-Term Evaluation of its greenhouse gas emission standards for cars and light trucks. EPA chose to leave the standards unchanged. “We are very disappointed that EPA has chosen to short-circuit the evaluation process for these rules, especially given the high stakes for consumers and for auto industry jobs. By the agency’s own estimates, these rules have already boosted sticker prices by nearly $1,000 and may add another $1,000 by 2025. Some analysts believe the impact will be considerably higher,” said Shimkus, Latta, and Upton. “For the sake of vehicle affordability and safety, as well as the health of the automotive sector, we need to make sure that the standards have been set at achievable levels, but EPA’s rushed analysis falls far short. If the EPA won’t do its job and take a careful look at these regulations, then Congress will.” ###  Read More

E&C Releases “The State of Obamacare”

2017/01/12

WASHINGTON, DC – Every day patients and middle-class families are facing higher premiums. The Energy and Commerce Committee today released 21 graphics showcasing states where premiums have gone up by the national average of 25 percent or more. All of the graphics can be found on the committee’s newly created Health Care Central, a go-to resource in the effort to deliver meaningful health care reforms. [[{"fid":"2156","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"387","width":"387","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] The State of Obamacare: Oregon. Additionally, the committee released a graphic showing the full picture of rate increases across every state. [[{"fid":"2157","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"337","width":"468","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] A complete look at 2017 Obamacare premium increases across the country. Last week the committee released a chart pack featuring eight infographics showcasing the truth about Obamacare – one where fewer plan options exist in counties across the country, and costs continue to rise each year, leaving vulnerable patients looking for help with nowhere to turn. “Americans across the country are struggling as Obamacare continues to mount higher price tabs and fewer choices,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR). “While people in states like Arizona, Oklahoma, and Tennessee have come to see rate hikes of 60 percent or more, Obamacare’s painful effects are impacting hardworking families from coast to coast.” The American people deserve better, and House Republicans have a Better Way. To view the individual state infographics on Health Care Central, click HERE. To view the national map of premium increases, click HERE. ### Read More

Murphy and Shimkus on EPA’s Allegations Concerning Fiat Chrysler Clean Air Act Violations

2017/01/12

WASHINGTON, DC – Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Environment Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL), today issued the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice of violation for certain Fiat Chrysler pickups and SUVs. “EPA’s announcement of alleged violations of the Clean Air Act by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is cause for concern,” said Murphy & Shimkus. “There is much we do not know about the details of this investigation. It is important that we develop a better understanding about the facts of this case and monitor developments resulting from EPA’s ongoing investigation of these alleged violations.” ###  Read More

House Minority Leader Pelosi on Obamacare

2017/01/12

“We Have To Pass The Bill, So That You Can Find Out What Is In It.” (Nancy Pelosi, Remarks at the 2010 Legislative Conference for National Association of Counties, Washington DC, March 9, 2010) “The implementation of this is fabulous.” (Paige Winfield Cunningham and Jennifer Haberkorn, “Dems: Obamacare confuses seniors,” Politico, June 27, 2013) [[{"fid":"2120","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"107","width":"414","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] “The point is, is that the [employer] mandate was not delayed…It was not a delay of the mandate for the businesses, and there shouldn’t be a delay of the mandate for individuals.” (Glenn Kessler, “Nancy Pelosi’s claim that Obamacare’s employer mandate ‘was not delayed’,” Washington Post, July 12, 2013) [[{"fid":"2121","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":"81","width":"180","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] “Everybody will have lower rates, better quality of care, and better access.” (Meet the Press, July 1, 2012) One Year Later… “I don’t remember saying everybody in the country would have a lower premium.” (House Minority Leader Pelosi’s Weekly Briefing, C-SPAN, June 6, 2013) “A Dream Come True.” (House Minority Leader Pelosi’s Weekly Briefing, C-SPAN, October 3, 2013) On Obamacare: “It captures the spirit of our founders – the spirit they wrote in the Declaration of Independence – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Affordable Care Act offers just that.” (House Minority Leader Pelosi’s Weekly Briefing, C-SPAN, June 23, 2013) Read More

Walden & Blackburn on FCC’s Zero-Rating Report

2017/01/12

WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) issued the following statement after the FCC issued its staff report on zero-rating. "We are disappointed to see the FCC moving controversial items like the recent staff report on zero-rating in the waning hours of Chairman Wheeler’s tenure. Chairman Wheeler’s decision to move forward with this report is a rare trifecta of anti-consumer policy, inappropriate use of delegated authority, and directly contradicting a request of Congress,” said Walden and Blackburn. “Ultimately, if taken at face-value the findings in the report threaten to reduce consumer choice and drive up monthly bills. Our regulatory agencies should aim to foster innovation and competitive service offerings that benefit consumers, not squelch innovative business plans in their infancy. We remain hopeful that the agency will refrain from taking action on controversial items in the remaining days of this administration, and we’re looking forward to working with the next commission to encourage robust technological innovation for consumers across the country.” ###  Read More

Bicameral Leaders Request Details on Coverage of Optional State Medicaid Eligibility and Benefit Categories

2017/01/11

WASHINGTON, DC – Bicameral leaders today sent a letter to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) requesting they analyze the optional Medicaid eligibility and benefit categories that states have chosen to cover and spending for those categories. The letter was sent by full committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA), Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT). The largest health insurance program, Medicaid, covered more than 77 million people last year. This year, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the program will be used by as many as 98 million Americans. “…[We] believe it is important to better understand the optional eligibility groups and optional benefits States are covering. Clearly, some optional benefits – such as prescription drug coverage – are important for virtually all beneficiaries,” wrote Walden, Murphy, Burgess, and Hatch. “Yet other benefits may be more necessary as a covered benefit for a subset of beneficiaries. However, this information is not easily discernable in one source for each state. Instead, this information exists across multiple, disaggregated sources that make meaningful review a challenge. The information currently available from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is limited to a list of mandatory and optional eligibility groups, as well as mandatory and optional benefits.” Committee leaders continued, “Congress in particular needs to have the most comprehensive and current information available, especially given that CBO warns that federal spending for mandatory programs and net interest will exceed total federal revenues by the 2027 – 2036 period. Without action, the unrestrained spending on Medicaid, which increases for each benefit and individual covered, could crowd out funding for other critical State and federal priorities like education, criminal justice enforcement, and transportation.” Click HERE to read a copy of the letter. ### Read More

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Greg Walden

OREGON's 2nd DISTRICT

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