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On The Hill: House Health Panels Shaping Up

House leaders last week finalized rosters for several committees of jurisdiction for issues important to essential hospitals, including the committees on Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means and both panels’ subcommittees on health.

Key appointments include:

  • Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) will serve as the chair of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee (and vice chair of the full panel). He has served on Ways and Means for more than a decade and was the ranking member of the subcommittee last year, when Democrats controlled the House. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), who served as subcommittee chair in the previous two congresses, will serve as the new ranking member.
  • Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) will chair the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, working alongside Vice Chair Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) and Ranking Member Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), who chaired the subcommittee in the previous Congress.

Guthrie and Buchanan will together chair the Republicans’ Healthy Future Task Force, which has previously developed legislative proposals to address the opioid crisis, modernizing health care, and reducing overall costs.

On the Senate side, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will serve as chair of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). The committee will have a large role in overseeing the Inflation Reduction Act’s allowance for Medicare to negotiate prescription drug costs and also has oversight of the 340B Drug Pricing Program. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) will serve as HELP’s ranking member.

Also in the Senate, Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has outlined his plan to expand his 2018 bipartisan legislation to allow for Medicare to pay for nonmedical services for people with chronic conditions. This would constitute a major win for telehealth and at-home care advocates and would impact most Medicare beneficiaries, two-thirds of whom have at least one chronic condition. He also told reporters last week that he’s looking to move legislation in this Congress that targets pharmacy benefit managers, who have “lost much of their original historical foundation.” Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) returns as the committee’s ranking member.

Other Hill and Administration News

Nearly a month into the new meeting of the 118th Congress, both the House and Senate are in session for the week ahead. The chambers also will hold their first formal hearings, beginning what is expected to be an onslaught of oversight hearings (at least in the House) that target the Biden administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, among other things.

On Tuesday, Jan. 31, at 10 am ET, the Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a Full Committee Organizational Meeting for the 118th Congress.

On Tuesday, Jan. 31, at 10 am ET, the Ways and Means Committee will hold a Committee Organizational Meeting for the 118th Congress. 

On Wednesday, Feb. 1, at 10 am ET, the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will hold a legislative hearing on, “Lives Worth Living: Addressing the Fentanyl Crisis, Protecting Critical Lifelines, and Combatting Discrimination Against Those with Disabilities.”

On Wednesday, Feb.1, at 2 pm ET, the Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a hearing on, “Challenges And Opportunities To Investigating The Origins Of Pandemics And Other Biological Events.”

Also, President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will meet in the White House on Wednesday to discuss the nation’s debit limit and federal spending. McCarthy now says Social Security and Medicare, roughly a third of the total federal budget, are off the table for cuts.

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