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Health Subcommittee Approves Bills to Prevent Job Loss, Advance Research and Treatment of Rare Diseases, and Protect Taxpayers

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Location: Washington, DC

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), today approved six pieces of legislation that achieve a number of important goals of the committee, including to prevent job loss due to Obamacare, advance research and treatment of rare diseases, assist returning veterans transition into civilian service, and protect taxpayers.

"The legislation approved today helps small businesses that assist families and employers shopping for affordable health coverage to remain in business and creates efficiencies in Medicare and Medicaid programs that benefit taxpayers and seniors alike," said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). "In addition to the commonsense reforms to our nation's current health care system, the subcommittee approved legislation that advances research and treatment of rare diseases, a priority for the subcommittee and for me personally."

"I would specifically like to recognize Rep. Kinzinger's Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Act, that would help military medics better integrate into civilian EMT jobs," said Subcommittee Chairman Pitts. "It seems that utilizing those with combat medic experience in our EMT workforce here at home would be good for the returning soldiers, good for the healthcare system, and good for patients. I also want to praise the committee for approving two bills that address the unmet health needs of children and adults suffering with rare diseases. Through my association with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, I am aware that there are too many diseases that children and families face that do not have easy answers and adequate treatments."

The health care law contains a mandate, known as the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR), that gives HHS sweeping power over the design of health insurance at the expense of consumer choice. During a September 15, 2011, hearing, witnesses testified that the MLR rule has created a "desperate economic situation" for a half-million insurance agents and brokers. This requirement could force agents to leave the market or significantly limit their plan offerings, creating a level of disruption that would quickly destabilize the market and threaten the ability of insurers to continue offering plans. H.R. 1206, which would exclude from the calculation of the MLR commissions paid to independent insurance brokers and agents who work to find individuals and small businesses affordable insurance options, was approved by voice vote.

H.R. 6118, which would give the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services much needed regulatory flexibility to enforce prohibitions against improper referrals of proficiency testing under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), was approved by voice vote.

H.R.1063, which would create efficiencies in the Medicare Secondary Payer program to speed up the process of returning money to the Medicare Trust Fund while reducing costly legal barriers for both large and small employers, was approved by voice vote.

H.R. 6163, which allows NIH to fund pediatric research networks comprised of a consortia of cooperating institutions that will cooperate in conducting research on conditions and disease affecting pediatric populations, was approved by voice vote.

H.R. 4124, which would provide demonstration grants to states with a shortage of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to streamline state-licensing requirements for military veteran EMTs to prevent unnecessary duplication in training, was approved by voice vote.

H.R. 733 directs the National Cancer Institute to establish a scientific framework with respect to research of recalcitrant cancers with low survival rates in order to advance diagnosis and treatment. The scientific framework will include a review of the current research, coordinate new initiatives, and identify unanswered medical and scientific questions. H.R. 733 was approved by voice vote.


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