The U.S. House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee held another health policy brainstorming session Wednesday.
The latest “member day” hearing gave House members a chance to promote their favorite ideas for changing Medicare.
Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, the chairman of the subcommittee, held a similar hearing in May. For that hearing, Tiberi asked for ideas about how to improve all forms of health insurance.
Because Medicare covers 55 million people and accounts for a huge share of U.S. health care spending, any legislation that affects Medicare could also affect direct or indirect effects on the commercial health insurance market as well as insurers’ Medicare plan operations.
At the latest hearing, Tiberi was quick to praise ideas from Democrats as well as from Republicans, and he said he and his Republican colleagues are eager to get back to considering bills through “regular order,” or the traditional House procedures.
In recent years, House leaders have used special procedures to get urgently needed bills through Congress in the face of bitter conflicts between Republicans and Democrats.
Tiberi noted that Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., a colleague on the subcommittee, yesterday praised Republicans for helping to pass H.R. 5273, a hospital funding bill, Tuesday. That bill passed by a voice vote.
“It may have taken a little while for you to say kind words about us,” Tiberi said. “Let’s build on that.”
For a look at three of the proposals discussed at the hearing, and access to the complete hearing video, read on:
1. H.R. 3220: Medicare Common Access Card Act of 2015
Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., presented several bills, including one that would support efforts to develop new antibiotics.
Another, H.R. 3220, would set up a Medicare smart-card pilot program.
Pilot program managers would try to develop new, hard-to-forge identification cards incorporating microchips.
Today, Roskam said, investigators have estimated that 12.7 percent of Medicare program payments are erroneous or fraudulent.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office has estimated that use of smart-card technology could have prevented 22 percent of Medicare fraud causes, Roskam said.
“It’s shocking,” Roskam said. “How is this possible?”