Capitol Correspondence - 02.13.24

Senate Finance Committee Explores the Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Health Care

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The Senate Finance Committee convened on February 8 for a hearing titled “Artificial Intelligence and Health Care: Promise and Pitfalls.” The discussion aimed to unravel the potential benefits and challenges associated with the integration of algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) systems into federal health care programs.

Throughout the hearing, senators actively engaged with witnesses, emphasizing the importance of AI as a supplementary tool for doctors while maintaining their autonomy in health care decisions. Questions spanned a range of topics, including addressing bias in AI tools, the role of Congress in regulating AI, and ensuring equitable access to AI benefits.

Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR), led the discussion, emphasizing the need for transparency, accountability, preservation of privacy, and equity in health care. He highlighted ongoing legislative efforts, including the Algorithmic Accountability Act of 2023, to ensure protections against bias in AI extend to federal health care programs.

A panel of experts collectively highlighted the intricate landscape of artificial intelligence in health care, with a particular focus on concerns about bias within AI models. Those who testified underscored the importance of unbiased AI tools reflecting patient populations, while shedding light on large-scale racial bias within algorithms, and citing instances where flawed designs perpetuated disparities. Experts outlined the absence of robust vetting processes for AI in health care organizations, stressing the governance of AI to include workflow considerations. These testimonies collectively emphasized the critical need for oversight, specificity in predictions, and increased accountability to address bias concerns and ensure equitable AI applications in health care.