The Affordable Care Act (ACA) health reform law is apparently here to stay, thanks to the Supreme Court decision in NFIB v. Sebelius and the reelection of President Barack Obama. But health care is not a bygone subject. States this year must determine how they want to handle Health Insurance Exchanges (HIX), if at all, and whether to opt into the ACA Medicaid expansion.
The 113th Congress, meanwhile, could deal with ACA issues such as the medical device tax, medical innovations, and mental health benefits that Qualified Health Plans (QHP) on the exchanges and other private health plans must provide. Medicare and Medicaid will continue to be part of proposals to reduce the federal debt.
TogoRun’s Freshman Health Book:
This year 48 Democrats and 35 Republicans newly joined the House. Nine Democrats, four Republicans, and one Independent took their seats in the Senate. Women now make up a record number of Congressional representatives, as do Hispanics and Latinos, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS).
TogoRun, specialists in health communications and public relations, has prepared an excellent resource – the Freshman Health Book – for understanding health care in the 113th Congress. TogoRun analyzed a host of political news, tracking websites, and candidate statements to pin down each new Member’s relationship with and stance on important health policy issues.
A quick overview of the report’s analysis is below:
- 15 freshmen Members of Congress have a connection to the health industry, either because they are physicians or other health providers, are married to health professionals, or have other health policy experience.
- Policies related to medical innovations could get new consideration, particularly from members such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who voiced strong opposition to the medical device tax.
- Congress might seek to define mental health benefits more specifically, and could take up other mental health issues related to prescription drugs.
- Health care advocates – whether on the Right or the Left – can use many of the ACA’s untold stories, lost in the loud debate about whether to repeal health reform, to promote policy changes.
- TogoRun identified 25 members who have the potential, based on their records and experiences, to lead health care policymaking in the near future. Among them are Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Rep. Bill Foster of Illinois, Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida, and Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio.
A new CRS brief also has additional useful information about Members of the 113th Congress. For example, the brief points out that 20 percent of Members serve in the military or are veterans. Those members will have personal experience with three other major health care institutions, the U.S. Military Health System, TRICARE, and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). See here for my previous posts on military and veterans health care.