Health care business on the House and Senate floors is slow this week while Congress focuses on transportation, energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), nominating a new defense secretary, Homeland Security Department funding, and the Islamic State.
In committee business, on Wednesday, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce will mark up several public health bills, the committee’s subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation will hold a hearing on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ mental health leadership, and the subcommittee on health will hold a hearing to discuss the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10) coding system. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing on Tuesday addressing the reemergence of vaccine-preventable diseases.
In other news, last week a bipartisan group of 40 senators wrote to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expressing concern with the star rating system for Medicare Advantage plans. In their letter, the senators stress the importance of taking into account the socioeconomic status of plan beneficiaries when rating plan performance. They are worried that the rating system may inaccurately depict plan quality for Medicare Advantage plans serving vulnerable populations and in turn penalize plans whose beneficiaries are largely low-income or dual eligibles.