Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who recently fought against a series of HHS-issued regulations that would have resulted in a financial loss to hospitals under Medicaid, will take over as chairman of the healthcare-heavy House Energy and Commerce Committee. He replaces Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), who had chaired the committee on and off since 1981.
Democrats voted 137-122 to replace Dingell, 82, the longest-serving member of the House, after a behind-the-scenes battle for the chairmanship began shortly after the Nov. 4 election. The committee has jurisdiction over parts of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and would be crucial in moving any form of healthcare legislation next year.
Chip Kahn, president of the Federation of American Hospitals, said Waxman is extremely experienced in the healthcare arena. He knows the subject and has one of the best staffs in Washington, D.C.
The choice by the (Democratic) caucus will have a major impact on healthcare legislation, Kahn added.
Dingell, known as the dean of the House, is the second-longest serving representative in the history of the House. He first took the chairmanship of the committee in 1981, losing it in 1995 when the Republican Party became the majority, but regaining it again in 2006 when Democrats took control. He will serve as chairman emeritus of the committee. -- by Matthew DoBias and Jennifer Lubell