Congressional committees have held numerous hearings on health policy issues recently, including the following:
- The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing July 24, 2008, entitled, “The Medicare Drug Benefit: Are Private Insurers Getting Good Discounts for the Taxpayer?” At the hearing, the Committee released a staff report that charges that prices paid for drugs used by the dual eligible beneficiaries under Medicare Part D are significantly higher than Medicaid prices for the same drugs. According to the report, the higher prices for the top 100 drugs resulted in a windfall of $1.7 billion for drug manufacturers in 2006 and $2 billion in 2007. Separately, on July 24, the Joint Economic Committee held a hearing entitled “Small Market Drugs, Big Price Tags: Are Drug Companies Exploiting People With Rare Diseases?”
- On July 24, the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee held a hearing on options to encourage the adoption and use of a fully interoperable health information technology system. On July 15, the panel considered health care reform lessons learned at the state level.
- The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing July 22 on “State Fiscal Relief: Protecting Health Coverage in an Economic Downturn.” The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing July 24 on “Long-Term Care Insurance: Are Consumers Protected for the Long Term?” Likewise, the House Small Business Committee held a hearing July 23 on “The Impact of Predators in Long-Term Care on Small Business Operators.”
- The House Budget Committee held a hearing July 16 entitled “Getting Better Value in Health Care.” Likewise, on July 17, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing entitled “The Right Care at the Right Time: Leveraging Innovation to Improve Health Care Quality for All Americans.”
- The Senate Special Aging Committee held a hearing July 23 to examine person-centered health care at nursing homes.
- On July 22, the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing on “Emerging Biological Threats and Public Health Preparedness: Getting Beyond Getting Ready.” The Committee also met to focus on the “Training of First Responders in Rural Communities.” In addition, the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing July 23 on health care in rural areas.