Hospitals and other health care providers are trying to keep federal agencies from classifying them as government contractors or subcontractors because they participate in government health plan provider networks.
Members of a House Education & the Workforce subcommittee discussed the health care provider status bill, H.R. 3633, at a hearing this week.
The bill would keep the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs from classifying a health care provider as a federal contractor or subcontractor because it received a payment from the federal government, regardless of the reimbursement methodology.
Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., and witnesses supporting the bill said H.R. 3633 is necessary because OFCCP officials have expressed the opinion that providers serving patients in Medicare, Federal Employees' Health Benefit Program and TRICARE military health care program managed care networks are federal contractors.
OFCCP enforces the federal anti-discrimination laws that apply to federal contractors.
Curt Kirschner testified on behalf of the American Hospital Association that providers are already subject to many regulations and fear OFCCP could convert them into federal contractors overnight, without advance notice, through a "jurisdictional land grab."
Thomas Carrato, president of Health Net Federal Services, a retired rear admiral, said he fears treating TRICARE providers as federal contractors would make creating TRICARE provider networks harder than it already is.
"They may not be willing or prepared to shoulder the additional burdens of federal contractor compliance," Carrato said.
Fatima Goss Graves, a vice president at the National Women's Law Center, said OFCCP provides important efforts to protect the civil rights of about one-fourth of U.S. civilian workers.
Disparity in access to high-paying jobs is a real problem, and the burden of OFCCP compliance reviews is small, Graves said.
The office reviews the employment practices of only about 2 percent of federal contractors each year, Graves said.