October 28, 2021
House Energy and Commerce hearing on legislation to support patients, caregivers and providers
On October 26, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing entitled, "Caring for America: Legislation to Support Patients, Caregivers, and Providers." The hearing focused on seven pieces of legislation aimed at fostering a more robust, diverse and supported public health workforce. In opening the hearing, Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said the pandemic has demonstrated "the need for broad investments and support for our health care workforce. This includes resources to recruit and retain talented health professionals and to protect their mental well-being going forward." Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) spoke about the need to support proven interventions and state-level innovation, condemned the partisan process to allocate funding to unauthorized workforce programs, and expressed her opposition to provider vaccine mandates, which she said is an approach "based on fear and control" that "will only make shortages worse." Of the bills discussed, there was notable bipartisan support expressed for the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act (H.R. 1667), as well the Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act of 2021 (H.R. 3320).
In addition to the legislation discussed, other Republicans also expressed their disagreement with federal vaccine mandates and potential negative repercussions on the workforce. Reps. Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Larry Bucshon (R-IN) also both expressed their concern that there was no discussion of pending cuts to provider payment and their strong opposition to the recent regulations from the Biden administration on surprise billing, which they said does not reflect Congressional intent. Rep. Blunt Rochester also discussed the nursing shortage and importance of hospital-based nursing schools in providing highly skilled nurses into the pipeline, noting her legislation (H.R. 4407) that would fix a technical glitch by CMS that would prevent large cuts to hospital-based nursing programs. Witnesses also expressed their support for expanded telehealth flexibilities and the importance of shifting to value-based payment as a way to improve outcomes and reduce costs while also reducing provider burnout.
Additional information is available in the attached Tax Alert.
Caring for America hearing