Each new term of Congress, the House and Senate meet to debate and approve the new rules that will govern the chamber and the new committee assignments, incorporating new members and shuffling others into new roles and responsibilities. With so many new faces in the 112th, there were some notable shifts in committee assignments on committees of great importance to health centers including House Appropriations, Energy & Commerce and Ways & Means and Senate Appropriations, Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP), and Finance. Below are the highlights of changes in leadership and additions to these key committees – click the links for the full lists and health subcommittee lists for the 112th:
House Appropriations: The House Committee on Appropriations has the power to appropriate money so it holds the federal government’s purse strings. This committee has authority to cut, increase or keep funding level for all government programs, including the Health Centers Program. The Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) has a key role in determining health centers’ funding each year. Representative Hal Rogers (KY) is now Chairman of the full Appropriations Committee with Norm Dicks (WA) serving as Ranking Member. New members to the committee include Reps. Flake (AZ), Lummis (WY), Dent (PA), Mario Diaz-Balart (FL), Austria (OH) and Graves (GA), along with Freshmen Reps. Yoder (KS), Nunnelee (MS), and Womack (AR).
House Energy & Commerce: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has broad jurisdiction over interstate and foreign commerce, telecommunications, energy, and most of the programs in the Public Health Service Act and health programs in the Social Security Act such as Medicare and Medicaid. Energy and Commerce, and the Subcommittee on Health in particular, oversees agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services – which means that this committee has jurisdiction over the Health Centers Program, workforce programs, and Medicaid. Representative Fred Upton (MI) now Chairs Energy & Commerce, with Henry Waxman (CA) as Ranking Member. New committee members include Reps. Latta (OH), McMorris Rodgers (WA), Cassidy (LA), Guthrie (KY), Bilbray (CA), Harper (MS), and Olson (TX). Several freshman members were also appointed to serve on E&C, including Reps. Lance (NJ), Bass (NH), McKinley (WV), Gardner (CO), Pompeo (KS), Kinzinger (IL) and Griffith (VA). The committee lost Democratic Reps. Christensen (VI), Castor (FL), Sarbanes (MD), Murphy (CT), McNerney (CA), Sutton (OH), Braley (IA), and Welch (VT) as the majority and minority switched on the committee.
House Ways & Means: The House Committee on Ways and Means has power over matters of revenue (taxes), debt, trade and most of the programs in the Social Security Act. Within Ways and Means, the Subcommittee on Health has jurisdiction over Medicare and other federal programs that provide payment for health care services – except for Medicaid, which lies with Energy and Commerce. Representative Dave Camp (MI) is Chair of the Ways & Means Committee in the 112th, with Sander Levin (MI) as Ranking Member. New committee members include Reps. Gerlach (PA), Price (GA), Buchanan (FL), Smith (NE), Schock (IL), Lee (NY), Jenkins (KS) and Paulsen (MN); Freshmen Reps. Berg (ND) and Black (TN) will serve as well.
Senate Appropriations: Like its House counterpart, the Senate Committee on Appropriations holds the power to spend federal money. Health centers depend on this committee to set the level of funding our program will receive each year, in particular the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (or Labor-HHS) Subcommittee. Senator Daniel Inouye (HI) will continue to serve as Chairman with Thad Cochran (MS) as Ranking Member. Senator Brown (D-OH) was added to the roster at the end of the last Congress and stays on, along with new additions Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Republican Freshmen Sens. Kirk (IL), Coats (IN), Blunt (MO), Moran (KS), Hoeven (ND) and Johnson (WI).
Senate Health Education Labor & Pensions (HELP): The Senate HELP Committee has jurisdiction over the nation’s healthcare, education, employment and retirement policies. This committee oversees any policy change to the Health Center Program, as well as workforce and public health matters, and other programs housed in the Public Health Services Act. Senator Tom Harkin (IA) will continue as Chairman of HELP with Senator Mike Enzi (WY) as Ranking Member. New members include Senator Whitehouse (D-RI) as well as Freshmen Sens. Blumenthal (D-CT), Paul (R-KY), and Kirk (R-IL). Democrats Manchin (WV) and Reed (RI) stepped down from the committee, as did Sen. Coburn (R-OK).
Senate Finance: The Senate Committee on Finance has broad purview over issues related to taxation and other revenue measures, US debt and trading, Social Security, and all health programs under the Social Security Act including Medicaid, Medicare, and CHIP. Specifically, the Subcommittee on Health deals with matters related to federal payors of health care services: Medicaid, Medicare, and CHIP. Senator Max Baucus (MT) will continue as Chairman with Senator Orrin Hatch (UT) as Ranking Member. New additions to the committee include Senators Cardin (D-MD), Thune (R-SD) and Coburn (R-OK).