Know your Committees

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Know Your Committees

The agencies that affect ASC legislation

A feature article in this month’s edition of ASC Focus highlights federal representatives that support the ASC community. Although a chamber passing a bill or the president signing one into law are certainly monumental steps, the work that these representatives do on the committee-level plays an important role in the legislative process. With dozens of committees across the House and Senate, certain committees have jurisdiction over legislation directly relevant to your ASC and the patients you serve.

US Senate Committee on Finance: This committee oversees programs under the Social Security Act, including Medicare, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). So far this Congress, this committee’s healthcare-related work has focused on drug pricing issues. Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) chairs the committee with Senator Ronald Wyden (D-OR) as ranking member.

On March 6, 2019, Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced S. 668, the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act, which was referred to this committee for its review. If enacted, this legislation would provide many benefits to ASC patients, including the removal of unexpected costs and limiting the financial restraints that discourage many people from getting this screening. ASCA has advocated for this legislation for many years and looks forward to working with a broad coalition to fix this problem for Medicare beneficiaries.

US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP): As the name implies, this committee has broad jurisdiction over healthcare, education, labor and retirement policies, and public welfare. Legislation pertaining to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is under the jurisdiction of this committee, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and several provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) are amendments to ERISA. Additionally, legislative solutions to surprise medical billing will likely require this committee’s input as many employer-sponsored health plans must comply with ERISA. Senator Andrew Alexander (R-TN) chairs this committee with Senator Patricia Murray (D-WA) as ranking member.

Last year, this committee held a series of hearings examining healthcare costs. In one of those hearings, Ty Tippets, administrator for St. George Surgical Center in St. George, Utah, represented the ASC industry. In his testimony, Tippets highlighted the exceptional quality and patient satisfaction rates that ASCs offer. A recording of his testimony and the hearing are available on the HELP Committee’s website.

House Committee on Energy & Commerce: This is the oldest standing legislative committee in the US House of Representatives vested with the broadest jurisdiction of any congressional authorizing committee. It has jurisdiction over health and healthcare facilities. This committee has approved a dozen bills related to healthcare so far this Congress, which focus on the individual insurance market and the ACA and drug pricing.

Representatives Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Aston McEachin (D-VA) and David McKinley (R-WV) introduced the House version of the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act, H.R. 1570, which has been referred to this committee.

House Ways and Means Committee: This committee has jurisdiction very similar to that of the Senate Committee on Finance. Aside from its jurisdiction over healthcare legislation, it is considered one of the most influential committees in the Congress because of its power to tax. This committee has advanced legislation for the full House’s consideration related to reforming the Internal Revenue Service and drug pricing. Representative Richard Neal (D-MA) chairs this committee with Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX) as ranking member.

Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA), who is a longtime advocate in Congress for ASCs, is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Health, which is chaired by Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX). Additionally, the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act has been jointly referred to this committee for its review and approval.

After a slower start due to the partial government shutdown and beginning of a new Congress, legislative activity is now fully underway. As ASCA staff continue to update you on legislation relevant to your ASC’s operations and the patients you serve, you will continue to see references to the above committees. For more information on the US Congress and other federal legislative activity, write Steve Selde.