Look Ahead: Committee Announces Hearings and Votes for Week of September 17

September 17, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Energy and Commerce Committee announced its schedule for the week of September 17, 2012. The full committee will vote on two pieces of health-related legislation: one to prevent job loss due to Obamacare regulations, and another to create efficiencies in Medicare to protect seniors and taxpayers. The committee will also explore a costly new regulation threatening coal plants and jobs as well as seek answers on the Federal Communications Commission’s handling of LightSquared.

On Wednesday, September 19 and Thursday, September 20, the full committee will hold a markup on two pieces of health care legislation:

The health care law contains a mandate, known as the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR), that gives HHS sweeping power over the design of health insurance at the expense of consumer choice. 

During a September 15, 2011, hearing, witnesses testified that the MLR regulations have created a "desperate economic situation" for a half-million insurance agents and brokers. This requirement could force agents to leave the market or significantly limit their plan offerings, creating a level of disruption that would quickly destabilize the market and threaten the ability of insurers to continue offering plans. H.R. 1206, the Access to Professional Health Insurance Advisors Act of 2011, would exclude from the calculation of the MLR commissions paid to independent insurance brokers and agents who work to find individuals and small businesses affordable insurance options.

The committee will also vote on H.R.1063, the Strengthening Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers (SMART) Act, which would create efficiencies in the Medicare Secondary Payer program to speed up the process of returning money to the Medicare Trust Fund while reducing costly legal barriers for both large and small employers.

Copies of the legislation and a Majority Memorandum are posted here. Amendments will be posted at the same link as soon as they become available.

On Thursday, September 20, the Subcommittee on Energy and Power will continue its hearing on “The American Energy Initiative” with a focus on H.R. 6172. The hearing will discuss EPA’s proposed New Source Performance Standards for power plants, which would require new coal-fired power plants to install costly carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology that is not yet commercially viable. The result of such stringent new standards is a de facto ban on the construction of any new coal-fired power plants. To prevent American coal plants from becoming extinct, Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) has introduced a bill, H.R. 6172, to prohibit EPA from finalizing any rule imposing emissions standards from power plants unless and until CCS is proven to be technologically and economically feasible. This hearing follows previous subcommittee hearings discussing the impact of EPA’s proposed NSPS standards on jobs, the economy, and consumers. A witness list, Majority Memorandum, and testimony will be posted here when available.

On Friday, September 21, 2012, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on “The LightSquared Network: An Investigation of the FCC's Role.” This hearing will examine the process and decision-making leading up to the FCC’s grant of a conditional waiver to LightSquared on January 26, 2011. The hearing will focus on whether the FCC’s handling of LightSquared was consistent with prevailing FCC policies, procedures, and precedents. The committee launched an investigation earlier this year. A witness list, Majority Memorandum, and testimony will be posted here when available.

Hearing and Vote Details

Wednesday, September 19, 2012
4:00 p.m. (Opening Statements Only)
2123 Rayburn House Office Building
Energy and Commerce Committee
Markup of H.R. 1206, the Access to Professional Health Insurance Advisors Act of 2011; and, H.R. 1063, the Strengthening Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers Act of 2011

Thursday, September 20, 2012
10:00 a.m.
2322 Rayburn House Office Building
Subcommittee on Energy and Power
Hearing on “The American Energy Initiative: A Focus on H.R. 6172”

Thursday, September 20, 2012
11:45 a.m.
2123 Rayburn House Office Building
Energy and Commerce Committee
Reconvening of Markup on H.R. 1206, the Access to Professional Health Insurance Advisors Act of 2011; and, H.R. 1063, the Strengthening Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers Act of 2011

Friday, September 21, 2012
9:30 a.m.
2123 Rayburn House Office Building
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
Hearing on “The LightSquared Network: An Investigation of the FCC's Role”