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On the Hill: VA Health, 21st Century Cures, Undocumented Minors, Medicare

This week, Congress returns from the July 4th recess to finish their last few weeks of session before the August recess.

Congress continues to focus on how to reduce patient wait times at Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals. Bills introduced by the House and Senate would seek to curb the delays in care by giving veterans access to private care if they would otherwise have to wait. The Congressional Budget Office scored the Senate bill as costing $35 billion and the House bill as costing $44 billion, causing major issues over both bills’ likelihood of success. Both the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs are still trying to find a solution to ensure veterans have timely access to care, although it is unclear how the committees will proceed given the high cost of their original bills.

This week the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold two hearings as part of their series on 21st Century Cures. On Wednesday, the committee will focus on modernizing clinical trials, such as conducting clinical trials more efficiently and effectively. On Friday, the committee will review how to incorporate the patient perspective in the process.

On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing in response to President Obama’s request for emergency funding to contain and prevent illegal immigration of minors. Although the funding would be given to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it would go toward the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which houses, feeds, and clothes children stopped at the border.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing on the Medicare Program’s appeals process on Thursday. This hearing is the second in a series on the Medicare Program.

 

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About the Author

Walsh is the senior manager of legislative affairs for America's Essential Hospitals.