Long before the first vote was cast in the November election, it was apparent that 2017 would bring big changes to Capitol Hill. Retirements by senior lawmakers as well as self-imposed term-limits for committee leadership will change the complexion of key committees with jurisdiction over healthcare. Even as Republicans retained control of the House and Senate, the Appropriations Committees, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and the House Energy & Commerce Committee will have significant new membership in the next Congress. Most notably, Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) is rotating out of his leadership position along with the Chairman of the House Labor-HHHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee, Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK).
The election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th
President of the United States will bring additional changes to federal agencies. A Trump administration will have the prerogative to nominate new leadership for the Department of Health and Human Services and change existing policies. While specific details on health policy under the new administration are limited at this time, the president will be managing the ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act
, transitions in value-based healthcare delivery, and divisive coverage and access proposals previously put forward by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services—and he is expected to take a very different approach.
Presently, annual spending bills for federal agencies and the “Cures/Innovation” initiative to enhance research and treatment/diagnostic development are pending before Congress during the lame duck session. The fate of these and other end-of-the-year legislative proposals are now in limbo as the new administration and congressional leadership hash out funding and policy priorities. Of primary interest to the patient care community is pending funding increases for federal medical research and public health activities that could now be stymied and then reconsidered next year.