Hatch: Medicare office using health law funds for treadmill desks

A new office designed to improve the efficiency of the healthcare system is wasting money on high salaries and expensive perks, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said Wednesday.

Hatch said during a Finance Committee hearing that he has "heard that … staffers have state-of-the-art workspaces, including very expensive treadmill desks."

Hatch questioned the expenses of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), a new office created by President Obama's healthcare law.

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"In a post-sequester world, where White House tours are being canceled and Easter egg hunts are being threatened, you can imagine why the American people would take a very cynical view about federal employees being furnished with thousand-dollar treadmill desks," Hatch said.

The CMMI has a $10 billion budget to study new ways of making the healthcare system more efficient.

The office largely funds pilot projects and outside research, which by definition don't provide instantaneous feedback. But Hatch said the office's projects are taking too long and overlap with other efforts within the Medicare and Medicaid agencies.

"I hope that CMMI takes the time to really study the impact of initiatives both while they are going on and at the end of demonstrations so that we know if they work — and how well they work — before the initiatives are offered to more providers and patients," Hatch said.