Lawmaker raises concerns over potential conflicts of interest with health rules

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Using private sector consultants to help rewrite health regulations “raises a number of issues” if they still have ties to the healthcare industry, according to a top House lawmaker.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), the ranking member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, sent a letter on Monday to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma requesting a briefing on how contractors and subcontractors are involved in the agency's rulemaking process.

Pallone's letter cited a September report from Politico highlighting the Trump administration's plans to roll back or overhaul several Obama-era healthcare programs, such as the ban on pre-dispute arbitration agreements in nursing home contracts.

“The Committee has a longstanding interest in ensuring that our government operates in a transparent and impartial manner,” Pallone wrote. “The subcontracting of private sector consultants — some of whom may maintain close relationships with industry — to assist in writing regulations raises a number of issues, including possible conflicts of interest, given the number of parties that could be affected by these rule changes.”

Pallone requested a response from CMS by Dec. 18.