OVERNIGHT HEALTHCARE: Burwell approaching finish line

The Senate Finance Committee is slated to vote on Sylvia Mathews Burwell’s appointment as the next secretary of Health and Human Services Wednesday. She is overwhelmingly expected to get the committee’s approval before her nomination is sent to the Senate floor for a final vote.

The current director of the Office of Management and Budget, Burwell has so far seen smooth sailing through two Senate hearings in the Finance and Health committees.

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Though she could be confirmed based on Democratic votes alone, most Senate Republicans are squarely in her corner.

So far only Sen. David Vitter (D-La.) has said he will vote against her nomination, and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) are likely to do the same after a letter to Burwell last week raising questions about her positions on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Lawmakers will also host a number of hearings on key healthcare issues Wednesday.

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health will discuss Medicare reform with industry executives and think tank experts including Mark Miller, executive director from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.

Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) says the meeting will look at ways to modernize and reform Medicare payment structures.

The Senate Finance subcommittee on Social Security will discuss the future of the program. Stephen Goss, chief actuary for the Social Security Administration and Teresa Ghilarducci, economics chairwoman at the New School for Social Research in New York, are among the panelists slated to speak.

The Special Committee on Aging will also meet Wednesday to discuss how healthcare providers participate in advance care planning, and The Atlantic will hold its Future of Medicine event.

AARP volunteers and staff plan to stomp through Capitol Hill Wednesday morning to urge lawmakers to back a number of bills, including the Older Americans Act and Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate.

Debra Whitman, AARP executive vice president, will testify before the Joint Economic Committee on the topic of women’s retirement security.

Members of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living will also meet congressional leaders the same day to push their agenda and Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is expected to address the group.

Deadline delay: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) outlined several ways it will slow down the "Meaningful Use" Electronic Health Records program in a proposed rule released Tuesday.

The decision would delay requirements for doctors and hospitals to adopt electronic health records (EHR).

The delay means healthcare providers can continue to use EHR software that was previously disqualified and still receive incentive payments this year. 

Nevada nixes exchange: On Tuesday, Nevada became the latest state to announce its state health exchange website had failed, joining the ranks of Massachusetts and Oregon.

The Silver State Health Insurance Exchange board unanimously fired Xerox, which was managing its Nevada Health Link. The state plans to contract out the job to a different company to relaunch the site for the 2016 enrollment period.

Until the site is ready, people will be redirected to HealthCare.gov to buy insurance starting with the upcoming November enrollment period.

Medicare fraud: Earlier in the day the House Oversight subcommittee on health held a hearing on Medicare fraud. Lawmakers raised concerns that Recovery Audit Contractors, who are tasked with recovering improper payments, and a backlog of Medicare fraud appeals cases could be pushing providers out of business.

Shantanu Agrawal, the newly appointed director of the Center for Program Integrity at CMS, defended the RAC program and said the agency audits less than 1 percent of all Medicare filings.

Senate Oversight Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Cali.), however, took Agrawal to task for delays to a CMS report detailing its new fraud prevention system.

Agrawal initially tried to sidestep questions about when lawmakers could expect the report, eventually agreeing to release it within two months after grilling from subcommittee ranking member Jackie Speier (D-Calif.).

Sunscreen: Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) criticized the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a "lack of focus" when it comes to reviewing new ingredients for sunscreen during a Hill-hosted event.

Isakson and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) discussed their Sunscreen Innovation Act at the event.

 

WEDNESDAY’S SCHEDULE:

The Senate Finance Committee will vote on Sylvia Burwell’s nomination for HHS secretary.

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health will discuss Medicare reform.

Debra Whitman, AARP executive vice president, will testify before the Joint Economic Committee on the topic of women’s retirement security.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) will address members of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living.

The Senate Finance subcommittee on Social Security will hold a meeting to talk about the future of the program.

The Special Committee on Aging will also meet to discuss how healthcare providers participate in advance care planning.

The Atlantic will hold its Future of Medicine event.

  

READING LIST:

E-cigarettes boost quitting success among smokers, study finds 

Medicare may be overpaying hospitals for short-stay patients 

Federal healthcare subsidies may be incorrect for more than 1 million Americans 

MERS Watch: Spike in new cases may be waning

 

WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED AT THE HILL

Was NIH independence compromised in study? 

Lawmaker asks if VA has ‘something to hide’? 

Senate panel moves to block VA bonuses 

Feds: Medical debt ruining credit scores

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