Inside the Beltway: The 114th Congress and healthcare policy

March 05, 2015

Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) leaves the House of Representatives and run successfully for the Senate. He is also joining the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee to work on public health service programs, such as FDA and NIH. Dr. Cassidy, a practicing gastroenterologist before he decided that Washington needed more physicians to be able to make better health care policy, was also a member of the energy and commerce committee in the House.

And what of the 70 new freshman members of Congress? Do any of them have health care experience? According to the 114th Congress freshman HealthBook, 2015, put together by TOGORUN, six freshman members have direct health care experience through careers tied to the health care sector and there are a number of freshman members that have an interest in medical technology and innovation having been part of local efforts to encourage development. Also, all of the House members that won Senate seats in this cycle have been working in health care policy and either authored legislation or had seats on committees with jurisdiction over health care issues or both.

So with all this experience coming to the health care policy arena and with just the first six weeks behind us, what can we expect? Already the Energy and Commerce Committee has put out a legislative discussion draft called, “21st Century Cures,” looking at ways to speed up innovation and its deployment to patients by offering proposals that touch FDA, NIH, and CMS. The Committee hopes to have legislation enacted by the end of the year.
The Senate HELP Committee is also interested in FDA and NIH reform legislation and has started its own process with the release of a white paper that seeks to evaluate how previous enacted legislation and resources are working and being used by these agencies.

And, we have the payment rates to physicians expiring on March 31st and a budget resolution both with action possible in the next five weeks.

Suffice it to say, if you like and are interested in health care policy, it is going to be a compelling 2015.


Jill Rathbun is Managing Partner at Galileo Consulting Group, in Arlington, VA. She will be commenting for DOTmed and HealthCare Business News magazine on such vital issues for all health care professionals as the implications of the President’s FY 2016 budget, the new make-up of Congress, possible Medicare payment proposals from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, reports from the Medicare Payment Advisory and more.

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