Health Care

Week ahead: Congress returns to new worries

Congress is returning to Washington with just two months left before ObamaCare’s second enrollment period.

For most of the lawmakers’ August recess, news on the Affordable Care Act and other healthcare debates was fairly quiet.

{mosads}But that ended for Republicans with the Sept. 4 announcement that a hacker had breached part of in July.

Though the exchange was not specifically targeted and no personal data was stolen, the GOP sees an opening to hammer the administration over the site’s security.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has already called Marilyn Tavenner, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator, to testify on the matter later this month.

The topic is also likely to dominate Republican remarks at a hearing Wednesday on the Affordable Care Act’s implementation, hosted by the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health.

The House Republican Conference also plans to zing the healthcare law in at least one set of votes this week.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said the chamber will consider a measure to allow insurers to continue offering certain small-group health plans that might not comply with ObamaCare’s rules.

The legislation is a Republican response to President Obama’s much-criticized remark that people could keep their plans under the reform.

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), the measure’s sponsor, is challenging Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) in November; the issue will undoubtedly play a role in that campaign.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are picking up a busy schedule on healthcare issues in their first week back.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will host two events as part of its bipartisan 21st Century Cures initiative on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The latter event, a roundtable, will include a bevy of key healthcare officials.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg are all scheduled to attend.

The discussion will center on how best to accelerate the development of new cures and treatments for disease.

The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will then look at a bill to address human trafficking on Thursday.

A handful of other issues could also get attention from lawmakers, including the worsening Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

A group of key House Democrats has called on Republicans to hold a hearing on the outbreak, which could take place later this month.

The Obama administration has also asked for additional funds to fight Ebola in the next continuing resolution, though it’s unclear whether that request will be fulfilled.

Off Capitol Hill, Burwell is scheduled to deliver her first major address as HHS Secretary at George Washington University on Monday. The speech comes after Burwell met with health insurance executives about ObamaCare’s second enrollment period.

Later in the week, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America will hold its annual awards ceremony.

The event will feature a conversation with former President George W. Bush and a key address by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH.

Next week will also see visits to Washington from members of the American Nurses Association, who are launching a campaign for better nursing education.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden is scheduled to speak at a forum on medical research alongside John Seffrin, CEO of the American Cancer Society, and other leaders. That event will take place Thursday at the Newseum.



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Tags Mary Landrieu Sylvia Burwell

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