Hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee - Opening Statement of Rep. McDermott, Hearing on Technology and Innovation in Health Care


Date: Sept. 14, 2016
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. Chairman, thank you for calling this hearing.

In my opinion, this could be one of the more important hearings we've held during my time as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee.

Innovation will be central to our efforts to address rising health care costs.

Currently, the United States spends 17.5 percent of our gross domestic product on health care.

And -- although the Affordable Care Act has helped slow this growth -- we still have work to do.

Innovation through electronic health records, telemedicine, and delivery system and payment reform must be part of our discussion.

So I'm interested in hearing from our witnesses about our progress in these areas.

I'm also interested in hearing about the challenges that we continue to face. Because recent events suggest that turning innovative ideas into reality isn't always a straightforward process.

We often point to Accountable Care Organizations as an example of an important tool in our effort to shift toward a value-based system.

If successful, they are supposed to lead to better outcomes at a lower cost.

Care will be coordinated, unnecessary services will be reduced, and patients will be healthier.

But recently the New York Times reported on the challenges facing Dartmouth, an innovator that has struggled to make the ACO model work in practice.

Although Dartmouth was improving quality and reducing costs, it found that its ACO was unsustainable and had to withdraw from the program.

This is just one data point, and it certainly doesn't mean ACOs are a failure.

But it does mean that there are questions that we still need to ask.

We are still trying to figure out where we are going as a country and how we can turn our investments in innovation into sustainable models moving forward.

The process involves collecting data, trying new ideas, and learning from our experiences.

My hope is that we can work together to do this in a bipartisan way.

It hasn't always been easy.

I know the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, for example, has become embroiled in partisan politics recently.

This is a shame.

The work the Innovation Center is doing will help us become more efficient and achieve our shared goal of containing costs.

I am hopeful that we can work together to support its efforts in the future.

We have a great panel today, and I would like our witnesses to speak about the things they are doing to innovate and improve care for patients.

I look forward to hearing from them about what works, what hasn't worked, and where they think we are heading.

Because I know that we can all agree that without meaningful action on cost containment we will continue down an unsustainable path.

I look forward to a productive discussion this morning, and I hope we can work together to find solutions.