Burgess Takes to House Floor to Support the Simple Fairness Act
Posted by Jill Shatzen on March 05, 2014
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) today spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives in support of H.R. 4118, the Simple Fairness Act, which he said would offer “a legislative solution to help Americans get out from the crushing weight of the so-called Affordable Care Act.”
Burgess, Vice-Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, said the bill would give hardworking Americans the same relief President Obama has already given to businesses by delaying the burdensome employer mandate twice in just one year.
“Shouldn’t the same relief be provided for the American people?” he asked.
Burgess, who also sits on the House Rules Committee, delivered his statement while managing the rule for consideration of this bill, which later passed the House, as well as for H.R. 3826, the Electricity Security and Affordability Act.
The full text of his statement on H.R. 4118 is below.
“The second bill contained in this rule, H.R. 4118, Suspending the Individual Mandate Penalty Law Equals Fairness Act, addresses the disparity that President Obama and Secretary Sebelius have created between big business, which has been given a reprieve in having to comply with the mandates contained in the Affordable Care Act, and individual Americans, who have been given no such help by this President. Just this week the press has reported the Administration will delay yet another provision of the Affordable Care Act by allowing insurers to continue offering health plans that do not meet the ACA’s minimum coverage requirements.
“It is becoming so commonplace for this Administration to waive or ignore provisions of what it calls its ‘signature law’ that the American people seem not to even take notice anymore. There is little doubt that that is exactly what this President is hoping for.
“In the last eight months, the President has delayed or modified more than 22 provisions of his signature health care law. The President has been quick to fix parts of the law that have political consequences for allies and protect his own talking points. Yet where is the President’s protection for the American people?
“Under the health care law, Americans who don’t have health insurance and refuse to purchase a government-approved insurance policy will face an annual fine that increases every year. However, purchasing a government-approved plan also means paying unaffordable premiums, being forced to navigate a dysfunctional website, losing the doctor you like and placing your personal information in jeopardy on an unsecure website.
“Today, Republicans are offering a legislative solution to help Americans get out from the crushing weight of the so-called Affordable Care Act.
“H.R. 4118, also known as the Simple Fairness Act, will give hardworking American the same relief the President has already given to business.
“The Administration had no problem delaying the employer mandate not just once for 2014, but a second time, for another full year for employers with 51-100 employees. Shouldn’t the same relief be provided for the American people?
The President has refused to work with Congress to change the law so today we are moving ahead and doing what’s right for the American people. The Simple Fairness Act will eliminate the penalty in 2014 for those individuals who chose not to purchase a government-approved health care plan.
“It is clear that H.R. 4118 offers the only feasible lifeline to millions of Americans who are faced with purchasing an expensive health care plan that does not meet their needs.
“It is Congress’ job to protect the American people, and I urge my colleagues to pass this rule so Washington can stop making decisions about Americans health care and instead individuals can be free to decide for themselves.”
Dr. Burgess Weekly Address: Drone Legislation
Posted by Jill Shatzen on February 28, 2014
This week, Dr. Burgess describes legislation he recently introduced that would cease the CIA’s use of drones and instead allow the Pentagon to carry out preemptive drone strikes against pre-arranged targets, as it is designed to do. Click here to read a transcript of the video.
GOP Doctor's Caucus Supports Burgess' Legislation to Repeal, Replace SGR
Posted by Jill Shatzen on February 28, 2014
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Vice-Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, today announced that the GOP Doctors Caucus agreed to the policies in his legislation to repeal and replace the Sustainable Growth Rate, which he introduced earlier this month.
In a letter today to House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the members of the Doc Caucus said the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act, H.R. 4015 and S. 2000, is the first bicameral, bipartisan solution to the SGR since 1997.
“After taking time to review the legislative framework, the House GOP Doctors Caucus has agreed to the policies contained within this compromise proposal,” the Members wrote. “With physicians and patients facing a March 31 deadline before the current patch expires, we must act now to repeal a flawed policy that threatens patients’ access to care.”
Burgess, who introduced the bill earlier this month, said he was happy to report the endorsement of the bill by fellow physicians and health care providers in the House.
“If anyone knows how destructive and pernicious the SGR has been to America’s seniors, it’s doctors,” Burgess said. “This bill puts medicine back in charge and allows providers to work collaboratively with CMS to determine the appropriate methodology to accurately measure quality. In addition, by maintaining a fee for service option, more providers are likely to remain in the system. The progress we have made this year toward repealing and replacing the SGR is unparalleled, but it is not the end of our efforts. We will continue to fight for a stable update beyond the first five years.”
This agreement repeals the flawed SGR formula and replaces it with a system focused on quality, value, and accountability. It incentivizes the highest quality of care for seniors with the use of quality measures determined by physicians and stakeholders themselves, and ensures that providers compete on a level playing field to deliver the best care possible to Medicare beneficiaries. This agreement provides for five years of 0.5 percent positive updates in physician payments as well as a provision to determine what further updates may be necessary. This is intended to prevent harmful cuts to Medicare physicians that would ultimately threaten seniors’ access to care. Ultimately, the agreement seeks to strengthen the integrity of the Medicare program and protect seniors’ access to quality care.
The bill was unanimously reported out of the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees, as well as the Senate Finance Committee. It currently has more than 30 cosponsors, including the support of Democratic physicians.
To read the letter, click here.
Burgess Opening Statement: O&I Hearing on Counterfeit Drugs
Posted by Jill Shatzen on February 27, 2014
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), Vice-Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, today delivered the following opening statement as prepared for delivery at a hearing titled “Counterfeit Drugs: Fighting Illegal Supply Chains”:
“The market for prescription drugs has been the catalyst for a continuing series of frauds against American manufacturers and has provided the cover for counterfeit drugs. The effect of these practices and conditions is to create an unacceptable risk that counterfeit, adulterated, misbranded, sub-potent or expired drugs will be sold to American consumers.
“Are these findings from today’s Committee memo?
“While they could be, they are, in fact, from the findings of the Prescription Drug Marketing Act (PDMA) of 1987. That bipartisan law was the result of a series of hearings conducted under Chairman Emeritus Dingell by this very subcommittee. In the report accompanying the bill, this Committee found:
‘American consumers cannot purchase prescription drugs with the certainty that the products are safe and effective. This is not to say that the shelves of the Nation’s pharmacies are lined with substandard products, or that there are inadequate controls in the manufacturing process. Rather, the integrity of the distribution system is insufficient to prevent the introduction and eventual retail sale of substandard, ineffective or even counterfeit pharmaceuticals.’
“The U.S. has the best drug supply chain in the world, and while the Committee’s work in this area is long and notable, as medications have become more advanced, our supply chain faces equally consistent and sophisticated attacks each and every day by counterfeiters, rogue distributers and those willing to adulterate product.
“According to the World Health Organization, in 2010, worldwide counterfeit medicine sales topped $75 billion, a 90% rise in five years. Some speculate that number may continue to grow by 20% each year. Medicines purchased from illegal websites have been found to be counterfeit in over 50% of cases.
“International Policy Network, a British think tank, approximates that worldwide there are 700,000 deaths a year caused by fake malaria and tuberculosis drugs, with 100,000 deaths in Africa according to the World Health Organization.
“At its most extreme, these criminals are willing to literally risk patients’ lives to sell counterfeits. As a physician, such immorality of knowingly sentencing a patient to death by denying them a treatment disturbs me to my core.
“In my opinion, punishment for counterfeiting prescription medication is far from adequate. From fake flu vaccines to oncology drugs -- counterfeit medications have been able to enter the supply chain and even been administered.
“Detecting a counterfeit drug is very difficult, if not impossible. No field test can be performed to indicate whether a drug is fake or real, and even trained experts are often unable to detect whether a drug is what it purports to be. Counterfeit and other altered drugs present an unreasonable risk to Americans.
“Thankfully, this Committee has remained vigilant and I believe the passage of the Drug Quality and Security Act last year will provide an invaluable tool – which was too long in the making – to further tighten our distribution system.
“While our system might be the best in the world, our healthcare workforce does not have the confidence they should that the drugs they are dispensing or administering are the ones that came from the manufacturer.
“I will also note that a December 2005 report found that nearly half of the imported drugs the FDA intercepted from four selected countries to fill orders placed with firms consumers thought were Canadian, in fact, 85 percent actually came from 27 other countries around the globe. A number of these products also were found to be counterfeit.
“Maintaining the integrity of the United States’ prescription drug supply is a compelling national priority that requires national solutions involving business, healthcare providers, and government coming together and being vigilant in the face of these threats.
“The vigilance of this Committee continues today.”
Burgess Opening Statement on CMS' Attack on Medicare Part D
Posted by Jill Shatzen on February 26, 2014
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), Vice-Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, today prepared the following opening statement to be delivered at a hearing titled “Messing With Success: How CMS’ Attack on the Part D Program Will Increase Costs and Reduce Choices for Seniors”:
"The end of 2013 marked the 10-year anniversary of the creation of the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit. Not only has Part D come in at 45 percent under budget, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has reduced its 10-year projections for Part D by over $100 billion in each of the last three years.
"Part D’s success is largely attributable to its competitive, free-market structure.
"Despite a proven track record of success, CMS has proposed to fundamentally restructure the Part D program, allowing the government to interfere in private plan negotiations, restrict beneficiary choice of plans, and limit incentives that lower costs for consumers. Only in Washington would there be a big government solution in search of a problem that does not exist.
"CMS’ interference is projected to eliminate 50% of current Part D drug plans in 2015 - driving premiums higher for nearly 14 million seniors and increase costs in the entire Medicare program.
"Even more concerning is CMS’ proposal to eliminate several of the “Protected Classes” under Part D. The protected classes were designed to ensure vulnerable patients have continual access to life-saving drugs. Not all drugs are inter-changeable, especially in the case of Immunosuppressants. The science of how these drugs operate has not changed, so why should the policy?
"The removal of these drugs from protected class status risks the lives of current and future beneficiaries, further jeopardizing transplanted organs and patients’ lives.
"Yet again, CMS has proposed a policy that is “penny-wise and pound-foolish”. Not only has the program increased patient access to drugs and made positive effects on the health of
beneficiaries, the program has extended the solvency of the entire Medicare program, saving billions of dollars over the past ten years.
"Rather than continue a successful program and encourage innovation, CMS has chosen to ruin one of the only “working parts” in our current healthcare system, leaving patients and taxpayers with the short end of the stick."
More information can be found at http://energycommerce.house.gov/hearing/messing-success-how-cms%E2%80%99-attack-part-d-program-will-increase-costs-and-reduce-choices
Burgess, Green Introduce Trauma Reauthorization Bill
Posted by Jill Shatzen on February 26, 2014
Washington, D.C. – Reps. Michael Burgess (TX-26) and Gene Green (D-TX) yesterday introduced a bill to reauthorize grant programs to save critical trauma systems in the U.S.
The Trauma Systems Regionalization of Emergency Care Reauthorization Act, H.R. 4080, would reauthorize two important grant mechanisms, the Trauma Care Systems Planning Grants and the Regionalization of Emergency Care Systems. The first supports state and rural development of trauma systems and the second funds pilot projects to design, implement, and evaluate innovative models of regionalized emergency care. It would also direct states to update their model trauma care plan with the input of updated stakeholders one year after enactment.
“The assumption that trauma care will always be there when we need it is sadly untrue,” Burgess said. “Forty-two states lack fully developed trauma systems. To let another system atrophy is to let the disparity between areas with access to trauma care and those that don’t increase until entire states lack critical care that will save its residents when the unthinkable happens. We cannot let that happen.”
“Trauma is the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 45,” Green said. “The even bigger tragedy is that many of these deaths could be prevented if victims had access to trauma care within an hour of a severe traumatic injury.”
The regionalization of Trauma Care Systems would make immediate and effective care available to patients around the country, and accessibility is the difference between life and death.
The bill has been supported by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons, the American Burn Association, the Association of Critical Care Transport the American College of Emergency Physicians, the American College of Surgeons, the American Trauma Society, the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, the Orthopedic Trauma Association and the Trauma Center Association of America.
Burgess, a physician for nearly three decades, and Green have been longtime partners on this issue. Burgess and Green both serve on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.
Burgess, Other Committee Leaders Request Documents Regarding White House's Newest HealthCare.gov Contractor
Posted by Jill Shatzen on February 20, 2014
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), Vice Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittees on Health and Oversight and Investigations, today signed onto a letter to the chief executive of Accenture, the newest contractor hired by the Obama administration to oversee HealthCare.gov and the administration’s efforts to complete the building of the federally facilitated marketplace (FFM).
According to recent reports by the Washington Post, Accenture obtained the $91 million contract for HealthCare.gov during an “abbreviated” contracting process in which three other companies were considered.
In the letter, Burgess and several other committee leaders requested a briefing with staff to explain how Accenture was selected for the contract, the terms of the contract, what work has been completed and a “detailed description of how Accenture is handling the transition of HealthCare.com and the FFM from the supervision of CGI Federal to Accenture.” The members also requested documents regarding Accenture’s work and communications with the administration and the White House.
“As the American public continues to struggle with the mess that is HealthCare.gov, it is our responsibility as leaders on the Energy and Commerce Committee to fully understand private companies like Accenture’s role in the FFM,” Burgess said. “It is our hope that Mr. Moskovitz will provide his briefing to the committee in a timely manner.”
In addition to Burgess, the letter was signed by full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA), Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA), Chairman Emeritus Joe Barton (R-TX), and full committee Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).
Click here to read the full text of the letter.
Burgess Hires New Communications Director
Posted by Jill Shatzen on February 18, 2014
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) today announced the hiring of his new Communications Director, Jill Shatzen.
Shatzen joins the Burgess office after having worked as Press Secretary for Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), who announced his retirement in December. Previously, she worked as Press Assistant and Legislative Correspondent in the office of former Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA).
“Jill’s previous Capitol Hill experience and background in journalism will serve us well,” Burgess said. “We look forward to having her join the team.”
Shatzen graduated from the University of Florida in 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism. She was born in Houston, TX, but primarily grew up in Miami, FL and McLean, VA.