In the aftermath of their midterm elections sweep, Democrats who once held positions of power in the healthcare arena will be reclaiming the chairmanships of influential healthcare panels in the House and Senate.
Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.), one of the architects of the Medicare Part D prescription drug bill, will be handing over the chairmanship of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee to the outspoken Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), after losing her bid for a 13th consecutive term in the House to Democratic challenger Chris Murphy. On the House Energy and Commerce panel, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) is slated to take over from Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) the chairmanship he lost years ago when the Republicans took over the Congress.
Its also expected that Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) could make a run at the chair of the committees panel on health, succeeding Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.), who was re-elected. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who won his bid in the Senate, was the former ranking member of that panel.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who currently chairs the Senate Finance Committee, will trade places with former ranking member Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.). On the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions panel, former ranking member Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) will switch with Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.).
GOP incumbents who lost their seats include Rep. E. Clay Shaw Jr. (R-Fla.), who pushed for medical malpractice reform and broadening insurance coverage options, and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), a member of the Senate Finance healthcare panel who lost to Robert Casey Jr., after serving in the Senate for 12 years.
Richard Pollack, an executive vice president at the American Hospital Association, said that the AHA is committed to working with the new committee chairswhomever they might beand expects a smooth transition from one party to the next.
Politicos such as Dingell, Kennedy, Rangel and Stark are all known quantities to us, he said.