Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives continue the lengthy process of finalizing membership rosters for the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees (E & C). The American College of Radiology’s (ACR) Government Relations Office works closely with both committees due to their direct jurisdiction over health care issues, including Medicare-related legislation.
On Jan. 4, House Republicans announced the appointments of Reps. David Schweikert (R-AZ), Jackie Walorski (R-IN) and Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) to the Ways and Means Committee. The following day, Democrats selected Reps. Brian Higgins (D-NY), Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Suzan DelBene (D-WA) to fill out their respective vacancies on this important committee. Reps. Terri Sewell and Brian Higgins are the only two member selected to serve on the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, as well.
Also on Jan. 4, Greg Walden (R-OR), chair of the E&C Committee, announced that Reps. Buddy Carter (R-GA), Ryan Costello (R-PA), Tim Walberg (R-MN) and Mimi Walters (R-CA) would join him as majority party representatives on the powerful committee. Democrats waited until Jan. 5 to reveal that Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Scott Peters (D-CA) and Raul Ruiz, MD (D-CA) would serve as minority party members.
In a widely anticipated move, Republicans formally tapped Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-TX) on Jan. 6 to serve as the new chairman of the E&C Subcommittee on Health. Burgess, an OB-GYN physician prior to joining Congress, replaced former Subcommittee Chair Joe Pitts (R-PA) who retired at the end of 2016. Burgess is a prominent member of the GOP Doctors Caucus.
The ACR’s Government Relations Office has worked closely with Burgess on a variety of important issues, including repealing the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), enacting the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), stopping the professional component multiple procedure payment reduction (PC MPPR) and pressuring the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to properly implement the imaging appropriateness criteria policy within Medicare. Of the four new Republican E&C Committee members, only Carter, a pharmacist, was selected to join its health subcommittee.
On Jan. 11, Democrats announced Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) as the new Ways and Means Health Subcommittee ranking member. Levin formerly served as ranking member for the full committee before voluntarily relinquishing the position to Rep. Richie Neal (D-MA) in December 2016. Levin, however, now replaces the recently retired Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) as ranking member of the Health Subcommittee. As a strong proponent of quality health care and defender of diagnostic imaging, the ACR looks forward to working with Levin in this new capacity.