THIS WEEK’S DOSE
With Congress in recess, it was a relatively quiet week on Capitol Hill, although updates from House Republicans continued to trickle in as leadership announced committee assignments for the new Congress.
House Republicans Make Additional Committee Assignments. The House Republican Steering Committee met this week despite the congressional recess. The Steering Committee announced new members of various committees, along with new ratios of Republicans to Democrats on the so-called “A” committees.
For the Energy and Commerce Committee, Republicans will have 29 seats and Democrats will have 23 seats (a reduction of three seats from each side). For the Ways and Means Committee, Republicans will have 25 seats and Democrats will have 18 seats (the same size as last Congress). For the Appropriations Committee, Republicans will have 34 seats and Democrats will have 27 seats (one less seat on each side).
The House Appropriations Committee also named its subcommittee chairs. The Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education Subcommittee will be chaired by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), who was previously the ranking member on the Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee. Chairing the Labor-HHS subcommittee, which controls most health-related appropriations, is a new role for him.
House Democrats will need to remove a small number of members on key committees now that they are in the minority, and those announcements are expected to be made in the coming weeks, along with completion of the remaining committee rosters on both sides of the aisle.
Once committee rosters are set, subcommittee determinations are made, and staff is put in place, committee leaders will begin to lay out their agendas and announce initial hearings for the 118th Congress.
CMS Announces Accountable Care Updates. On January 17, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the growth of three accountable care initiatives in 2023, aimed at providing higher quality care to more than 13.2 million Medicare beneficiaries.
More than 700,000 healthcare providers and organizations will participate in at least one of the three accountable care initiatives, which comprise groups of doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers that collaborate to provide coordinated, high-quality care to Medicare patients. CMS noted that this growth will advance its goal of having all traditional Medicare beneficiaries in an accountable care relationship with their healthcare provider by 2030.
The announcement from CMS included the following programs:
- The Medicare Shared Savings Program, which has 456 accountable care organizations (ACOs) and 10.9 million assigned beneficiaries in 2023. CMS noted that while the Shared Savings Program experienced a decrease in the number of ACOs and assigned beneficiaries for 2023, the policies finalized in the CY 2023 Medicare physician fee schedule final rule are expected to increase program participation for 2024 and beyond, when many of the new policies are set to go into effect. A fact sheet on the Shared Savings Program can be found here.
- The ACO Realizing Equity, Access, and Community Health (REACH) Model, which has 132 ACOs with 131,772 healthcare providers and organizations providing care to an estimated 2.1 million beneficiaries in 2023. It will also have 824 federally qualified health centers, rural health centers and critical access hospitals participating in 2023, which is more than double the 2022 number and extends the reach of ACOs in underserved communities. A fact sheet on the ACO REACH Model can be found here.
- The Kidney Care Choices (KCC) Model, which focuses on Medicare beneficiaries with chronic kidney disease stages 4 and 5 and end-stage renal disease. The KCC Model includes 130 KCC entities with almost 8,400 participating healthcare providers and organizations and almost 250,000 beneficiaries in 2023. A fact sheet on the KCC Model can be found here.
- The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through CMS, announced new actions related to strengthening nursing home safety and transparency. These actions include initiating audits to reduce the inappropriate use of antipsychotic medications and bringing greater transparency to families about nursing home citations by displaying survey citations that facilities are disputing on the Care Compare website.
- The US Government Accountability Office released a report on public health preparedness, finding that HHS could improve oversight of research involving enhanced potential pandemic pathogens. The report made recommendations to HHS on oversight improvements, including developing and documenting a standard for “reasonably anticipated” research and assessing the risk of statutory limitations. Both the chair of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, James Comer (R-KY), and the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA), released statements noting that further investigations are to come from their respective committees.
NEXT WEEK’S DIAGNOSIS
The House and Senate are both in session next week, and additional announcements of committee assignments are expected.
For more information, contact Debra Curtis, Kristen O’Brien or Erica Stocker.
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