KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: The Changing of the Guard

by | Nov 17, 2022 | Health

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The coming Congress will look different from the current one: While Democrats narrowly kept control of the U.S. Senate, Republicans gained a majority in the House. While their majority is small, it will likely be enough to block any further items on President Joe Biden’s agenda.

Meanwhile, the current, lame-duck Congress still has a lot of items on its to-do list, including keeping the government open and averting a scheduled 4% cut in payments to health providers.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KHN, Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, Victoria Knight of Axios, and Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico.

Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:

With Democrats holding the Senate, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is expected to be the next chairman of the Committee of Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. In that role he would be able to set a more progressive agenda, though he could not push changes to Medicare, which is not under the committee’s jurisdiction. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a doctor who worked on surprise billing legislation, is in line to become HELP’s top Republican.

Republicans clinched control of the House of Representatives and have nominated Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to be speaker, though he’ll have to overcome tensions over weaker-than-expected midterm results. While there are chances to demonstrate bipartisanship, like on telehealth regulation, the party will be able to push back against the Democratic-controlled Senate and White House. Watch for investigations into the Biden administration and Republican refusals to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling.

In the states, Oregon voters approved a constitutional amendment that establishes an individual right to health care, though it doesn’t give the state the ability to spend money to ensure that right. It remains to be seen what the change means, although it possibly opens the door for residents to sue the state over health care affordability.

A liberal group, the Fairness Project, was behind a wave of successful ballot measures last week, capitalizing on the gap between voters and Republican lawmakers on issues like abortion and Medicaid expa …

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