U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, a strong advocate of the Affordable Care Act, will not seek re-election as ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee.
In a letter to his colleagues, the Michigan Democrat said he will not pursue the position so he can focus on his “legislative passions,” one of which is healthcare. He has been the ranking member of the powerful committee since 2011.
Levin, 85, helped implement the ACA and was chair in 2010 of the House Ways and Means Committee when the healthcare law passed. He said, “I feel a sense of responsibility to help preserve it and there are now 20 million people counting on us to stop President (Donald) Trump and the House Republicans from repealing it.”
Levin also will focus on efforts to preserve Medicare and Medicaid provisions and funding as they currently stand under the ACA.
Levin has publicly opposed efforts to turn Medicare into a privatized voucher system. When a House Republican budget in 2011 proposed a voucher program, Levin testified against it saying, “They are aiming to destroy Medicare for future generations–not save it. Future seniors would be given a voucher and then told they're on their own.”
The president-elect and congressional Republican leaders have signaled they will move to turn Medicare into a “premium support” system that pays private plans and the traditional fee-for-service program a fixed amount per beneficiary.
Levin also opposes a capped state block-grant program to fund Medicaid. The program has been touted by Trump and has support from some Republican congressional leaders.
Another reason Levin gave for leaving his senior role on the committee is to support younger House members to take on leadership roles. Levin has served iin the House of Representatives since 1983.
U.S. Reps. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) and Richard Neal (D-Mass.) have both said they will run to replace Levin.
Becerra is currently chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. He has a legislative history of supporting efforts to expand Medicare and Social Security.
Neal is also a Ways and Means member and the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures. He has also supported efforts to preserve Medicare and Social Security.