In a letter sent to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday, Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) questioned whether the $10 billion devoted to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation under the federal health reform law is being wasted, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
Boustany, a physician, wrote, "Health care innovation and expenditure reduction are important objectives, but recent reports on grant making activities at CMMI reveal a lack of transparency and suggest the possible waste of taxpayer dollars" (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 6/13).
Boustany requested information on the grant awarding and review process, including copies of reviewed applications, a list of reviewers, information on how the review teams are assembled, a timeline for application reviews and how CMMI calculates estimated savings from each project (Ethridge , CQ HealthBeat, 6/13).
Republicans Push for HHS To Respond to Investigation
In related news, Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday plan to introduce an amendment to the HHS spending bill that would require the agency to respond to an ongoing investigation, CQ Today reports.
HHS is the only agency that has not responded to requests by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) for information on spending on public relations and advertising. Portman said, "The administration has spent tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to advertise the president's unpopular health care spending law," adding, "HHS should stop stonewalling on this bipartisan oversight inquiry, and just tell us how the money was spent."
Portman also unveiled information from the Federal Procurement Data System that show HHS has signed contracts worth as much as $183 million with advertising and media relations firm. However, the data cannot be verified without HHS' response, Portman said (Ethridge , CQ Today, 6/13).
House Republicans Respond to Actuaries Report
Also in related news, House Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee in a memo released Tuesday criticized the federal health reform law, noting that a report by CMS' Office of the Actuary shows that health spending will increase in 2014 when the overhaul is fully implemented, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Viebeck , "Healthwatch," The Hill, 6/13).
The CMS report -- published in the journal Health Affairs -- projects that when the health reform law is fully implemented in 2014, spending will increase by 7.4%, up from about 4% annually through 2013. The report anticipates spending growth will slow again beginning in 2015 and average 6.2% annually through 2021 (California Healthline, 6/13).
The memo states that the CMS report "confirms that despite the Obama administration's promises to the contrary, health care costs continue to increase." The memo adds that the report "reaffirmed a reality that so many other reports have already warned about" (Viebeck , "Healthwatch," The Hill, 6/13).