From his stronghold as the ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, Henry Waxman of California, now in his 16th term in Congress, has fired off numerous reports lambasting the Bush administration's healthcare policies.
Most recently, Waxman's staff—the special investigations division for the minority on the Government Reform Committee—found Medicare pays more for prescription drugs than prices found elsewhere. Other reports criticized the administration's handling of communications with seniors about the new drug benefit; the 2004-05 flu vaccine crisis; regulation of prescription drug advertising; and funding for scientific research, particularly for HIV/AIDS. Waxman, now 66, also accused the administration of watering down conclusions in a landmark report in 2003 that showed disparities between the health services received by whites and minorities.
In an earlier role, as chairman of the Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, a position he held from 1979 to 1994, Waxman was equally tenacious in promoting better healthcare for Americans. He held hearings, issued reports and crafted legislation on myriad health matters, such as expansions
in Medicaid coverage, nursing home quality standards, women's health research and affordable prescription drugs.
Waxman's determination to help victims of HIV/AIDS led to his key role in the 1990 passage and subsequent reauthorization of the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, which provides funding for health services.
Waxman's involvement in healthcare legislation dates back to 1969—the year he was appointed to the California State Assembly Health Committee. Waxman transferred his zeal for health issues to the U.S. House, and since 1975 has served a wealthy and liberal district west of Los Angeles—including Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and Malibu.