Upton, Pitts warn of potential MACPAC conflicts of interest

Letters were sent to both the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) last week by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Health Subcommittee Chairman Joseph Pitts (R-PA) calling for information on MACPAC’s missing conflict of interest policy.

The letters seek information about the process and methodology used by the GAO to evaluate candidates and MACPAC actions to ensure the provision of objective, independent analysis. MACPAC commissioners are selected by the U.S. comptroller general, who also serves as the head of the GAO.

“We appreciate the role GAO plays in providing Congress with nonpartisan, unbiased information through its studies and analysis related to Medicaid and other federal programs,” the letter to the GAO said. “Moving forward, it is our hope that MACPAC will similarly provide nonpartisan and objective information – which is critical to address the issues we have identified.”

Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have questioned the selection process that is used for members of the commission, which recommends Medicaid policies to Congress. As a result, some have cautioned that conflicts of interest could exist on the panel, which is meant to be independent.

“While MACPAC was created nearly six years ago for the purpose of advising Congress on issues affecting Medicaid and CHIP, without a balance of commissioners and a robust conflict of interest policy, we believe MACPAC’s recommendations will lack a needed level of independence and integrity,” the letter to the GAO said.

Created in 2009 as a nonpartisan legislative agency to make policy recommendations to the administration and Congress about Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, MACPAC is modeled after the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, which serves in a similar capacity to Congress about matters of Medicare spending.

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