Dr. Burgess Weekly Address: Honoring the fallen
Posted by on May 22, 2015

This week, Dr. Burgess honors our fallen troops for Memorial Day.
To read a copy of his remarks, click here
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Burgess introduces bill to improve Medicare osteoporosis testing
Posted by Cameron Harley on May 20, 2015
Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D., along with Reps. Linda Sanchez, John B. Larson, and Marsha Blackburn today, introduced H.R. 2461, the “Increasing Access to Osteoporosis Testing for Medicare Beneficiaries Act of 2015.”  This legislation establishes a business case for administering Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DXA) tests, a critical test for osteoporosis risk that has become too costly for many providers since 2007 reimbursement cuts.

H.R. 2461 has been endorsed by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, The International Society for Clinical Densitometry, and the National Osteoporosis Foundation. 

“This bill restores access to a vital preventative service that will dramatically reduce fracture rates and generate a substantial savings,” Rep. Burgess said.  As a physician, I know just how big a public health threat osteoporosis is because, often, patients show no symptoms until they have a fracture. It is critical we act to ensure Medicare providers stay ahead of this debilitating disease.”

Osteoporosis: A prevalent, deadly, and costly looming public health concern:
Low bone mass and osteoporosis is responsible for over two million fractures each year, with half of all women and one-fourth of all men over the age of 50 experiencing osteoporosis related fractures in their lifetime.  54 million Americans over age 50 have osteoporosis. This number is expected to increase by 27 percent by 2030.  

Since 2007 Medicare cuts, there has been a 12.9 percent decline in DXA providers and fewer providers obtaining certifications to administer DXA tests. Overall, more than one million fewer tests have been done since 2008.

A recent Mayo Clinic study shows that the hospital burden of osteoporotic fractures and hospital cost is greater than that of myocardial infarction, stroke, or breast cancer. Medicare paid $18.7 billion in 2010 for direct costs of new fractures and this number is projected to grow to over $25 billion per year by 2025. Furthermore, according to Kaiser Southern California’s Healthy Bones Program, utilization of DXA testing and treatment resulted in 37 percent fewer fractures and more than $30 million savings in a single year.
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Burgess joins bicameral coalition for fiscal responsibility, student standards at medical schools
Posted by Cameron Harley on May 19, 2015
Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D., today, joined U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), as well as Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) today to introduce The Foreign Medical School Accountability Fairness Act. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation ends special treatment to a small number of medical schools in the Caribbean that, in 2012, took in more than $450 million in U.S. Department of Education Title IV funding – two-thirds of all Title IV dollars that go to foreign medical schools.  

This fix would apply the following two requirements to all medical schools outside of the U.S. and Canada: at least 60% of the enrollment must be non-U.S. citizens or permanent residents and students must have at least a 75% pass rate on the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam.  
“This is about leveling the playing field and improving student quality,” Rep. Burgess said. “If medical schools outside the U.S. are going to receive federal money, they need to meet the standards of education those taxpayer dollars were meant to fund. We must close this loophole to disallow foreign schools from accessing huge amounts of federal dollars at the expense of education and doctor quality.”

“A loophole in current law allows for-profit medical schools in the Caribbean to enroll large percentages of American students – and profit from hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars – without meeting the same quality standards of instruction as medical schools in the U.S. or the basic requirements of all other foreign medical schools,” Senator Durbin said. “Our bill to close that loophole has broad support among the U.S. medical school community and now is supported by members from both parties in both chambers.  As Congress continues work on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, I hope this bipartisan bill will be part of the discussion.”

“There are reports that some foreign medical schools inappropriately use taxpayer dollars. By fixing a loophole, we can ensure these schools are held to the same standards as every other school,” Senator Bill Cassidy M.D said. 

“I am pleased to join my colleagues in introducing this important piece of legislation that will close a loophole that has left students open to exploitation for too long,” Rep. Cummings said.  “This bill would send a clear message to unscrupulous institutions that seek to target students for their financial aid while delivering substandard outcomes. Protecting students and taxpayer dollars is a bipartisan issue and Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle will not stand for substandard results.”

A September 2013 investigative report in Bloomberg Markets highlighted two foreign medical schools – American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC) and Ross University School of Medicine – which admit hundreds of students, many of whom were rejected by U.S. medical colleges.  According to the report, students at medical schools operating outside of the United States and Canada amass more student debt than those at medical schools in the United States.  For example, graduates of the American University of the Caribbean have a median of $309,000 in federal student debt versus $180,000 for graduates of U.S. medical schools.

These foreign medical schools are also much less successful ensuring students’ progress all the way through the program.  The average attrition rate at U.S. medical schools is 3% while rates at for-profit foreign medical schools can be up to 26% or higher.  Even if students do finish at these schools, with much more debt, they often have difficulty finding a residency – mandatory for actually practicing medicine in the United States.  In 2015, foreign-trained, American graduates had a residency match rate of 53% compared to 94% of graduates of U.S. medical schools.  They are even less likely to land a residency position the second time around.
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Dr. Burgess Weekly Address: National Police Week
Posted by on May 15, 2015

In the spirit of National Police Week, Dr. Burgess urges North Texas recognition of the Garland Police Department and the first responders of last weekend’s severe weather.

To read a copy of his remarks, click here
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NDAA approved by House, includes Burgess Pentagon audit amendment
Posted by Cameron Harley on May 15, 2015
The House of Representatives today, passed the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes Congressman Michael C. Burgess’ ‘audit the Pentagon’ amendment. This provision requires the Pentagon’s compliance in providing a report outlining progress toward their long-overdue external audit. 

Under current law, the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 requires federal agencies to pass an independent external audit every year. Yet, 20 years later, the Department of Defense (DOD) is the only major agency that is, according to the Government Accountability Office, not compliant with this mandate. While years ago, the DOD agreed to pass an audit by 2017, no progress has shown that to be a likelihood.

“No agency is above the law,” Rep. Burgess said. “As we continue increasing funding to ensure our national defense, we as lawmakers have a constitutional duty to monitor use of these tax dollars. It’s time for both Congress and the Pentagon to observe this responsibility and give the American people the accountability they deserve.

“I extend congratulations to Chairman Mac Thornberry, a fellow Texan, on successfully brokering the passage of his first national defense funding bill.”    

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Burgess introduces Pentagon audit NDAA amendment
Posted by Cameron Harley on May 14, 2015
Under current law, the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 requires federal agencies to pass an independent external audit every year, starting in the 1990s. Yet 20 years later, DOD is the only major agency that is, according to the Government Accountability Office, not compliant with this requirement. While DOD years ago said it would pass an audit by 2017, no progress has shown that to be a likelihood.

Congressman Michael C. Burgess today, with Congresswomen Barbara Lee and Jan Schakowsky, reintroduced their bipartisan amendment to the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), allowing Congress insight into Pentagon spending. Under the provision, the Secretary of Defense would provide Congress with rankings of their departments, in the order of most prepared. 

“As the holder of the purse, Congress has a duty to demand transparency,” Rep. Burgess said. “Our amendment will provide Congress with concrete, concise information as to how close each part of DOD is to achieving the goal. No such list currently exists and Congress to date has not required it. This amendment corrects a crucial missing puzzle piece and allows the Congress to execute a chief governmental function: oversight.” 

“Unauditable is unacceptable,” said Congresswoman Lee. “It has been more than two decades since the Pentagon was required to undergo an audit and the Pentagon is still reporting that full audit-readiness is years off. This amendment, which also passed last year, requires a ranked list of all departments and agencies by their audit-readiness status. This list will empower Congress to make decisions on next steps to ensure auditability of the Pentagon. We need greater sunlight and transparency so the American people know how their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent. It’s past time to end waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars in Pentagon spending.”

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, made the following remarks in support of the amendment: 

"All departments of the United States Government are audited--except the Pentagon.  This is not acceptable.  If the management of the Pentagon cannot pass an audit--get new management. At a time when resources are scarce it is particularly important that we audit the Pentagon to reduce waste and the costs of mismanagement. All Americans who want our nation strong and secure know that step one is to ensure that all available resources are being spent wisely.  Every wasted dollar is a cut in our preparedness. An audit is the only way to begin to know how much is misspent.”
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Burgess commends HHS HIV-positive organ donor rule
Posted by Cameron Harley on May 12, 2015
After The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a new HIV-positive organ donor final rule late last week, Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D., commended the provision.  The rule, resulting from the “HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act of 2013,” will allow those infected with HIV to donate their organs to other HIV-positive patients participating in clinical research.  Rep. Burgess cosponsored the HOPE Act. 

“It is gratifying to see this lifesaving law beginning to take shape,” Rep. Burgess said.  “HIV-positive patients whose course has been complicated by liver failure will now have another option in their fight for survival. And, medical researchers have gained a tool in their search for life saving treatments.”      

The HOPE Act was strongly supported by the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, the Americans Society of Nephrology, HIV Medicine Association, and the American Society of Transplantation.

HHS Final Rule Summary:

This final rule amends the regulations implementing the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984, as amended, (NOTA) pursuant to statutory requirements of the HIV Organ Policy Equity Act (HOPE Act), enacted in 2013. In accordance with the mandates of the HOPE Act, this regulation removes the current regulatory provision that requires the Organ Procurement Transplantation Network (OPTN) to adopt and use standards for preventing the acquisition of organs from individuals known to be infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). 
In its place, this regulation includes new requirements that organs from individuals infected with HIV may be transplanted only into individuals who are infected with HIV before receiving such organs and who are participating in clinical research approved by an institutional review board. The only exception to this requirement of participation in such clinical research is if the Secretary publishes a determination in the future that participation in such clinical research, as a requirement for transplants of organs from individuals infected with HIV, is no longer warranted. 
In addition, this regulatory change establishes that OPTN standards must ensure that any HIV-infected transplant recipients are participating in clinical research in accordance with the research criteria to be published by the Secretary. Alternately, if and when the Secretary determines that participation in such clinical research should no longer be a requirement for transplants with organs from donors infected with HIV to individuals infected with HIV, the regulation mandates that the OPTN adopt and use standards of quality, as directed by the Secretary, consistent with the law and in a way that ensures the changes will not reduce the safety of organ transplantation.
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Dr. Burgess Weekly Address: The No Armed Drones Act
Posted by on May 07, 2015

This week, Dr. Burgess highlights his new bill to prohibit local and national police forces from arming drones.

To read a copy of his remarks, click here

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Burgess statement on the passing of Jim Wright
Posted by Cameron Harley on May 06, 2015
After the passing of Former House Speaker Jim Wright, who represented Fort Worth in Congress for 34 years, Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D., made the following remarks: 

“My thoughts and prayers are with the family and loved ones of Former Speaker Wright,” Rep. Burgess said. “After having the opportunity to meet and speak with him, it was clear to me that he cared deeply about the people of Fort Worth and our surrounding communities. He will be missed.” 
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Dr. Burgess Weekly Address: The first 100 days
Posted by on May 01, 2015

This week, Dr. Burgess discusses the new energy and myriad successes of the 114th Congress.

To read a copy of his remarks, click here
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