The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction was created as a part of Congress’ debt deal in July. The 12-member bipartisan committee is charged with cutting $1.5 trillion in federal spending by Thanksgiving. Medicare and Medicaid benefits, doctor’s pay, and the Children’s Health Insurance Plan could be on the chopping block. As physicians advocate for a permanent fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate Formula and medical liability reform(among other things), here’s a look at what you can expect from committee members concerning the issues that matter to you.
Co-Chair: Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.)
As a supporter of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Sen. Murray (@SenMurrayPress) advocates for expanding access to health care, including increasing mental health coverage and the use of health technology. She also supports decreasing long-term health costs through preventive care.
She has experience in handling budget and spending issues after serving on the Senate Budget Committee and the Appropriations Committee. She is currently the chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation. Click here to learn more.
Health-related legislation: Sen. Murray has sponsored several health-related bills including legislation to increase awareness of emergency contraception, and a bill to improve mental health services for the military.
Co-chair: Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.)
Rep. Hensarling (@RepHensarling) has a background in economics and previously served on the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and on the President’s Debt Commission.
Rep. Hensarling has maintained a conservative voting record and opposed the ACA, calling it a “travesty.” He advocates for limited government, including arguing against the expansion of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. He currently serves as the chairman of the House Republican Conference and as vice-chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Click here to learn more.
Health-related legislation: Sen. Harling has cosponsored legislation to repeal the ACA (H.R. 4903, H.R.4919, and H.R.4972). He has also cosponsored H.R. 3217, to allow Americans to purchase health insurance across state lines, and H.R. 1086 to enact medical liability reform.
Other members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction include:
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.)
A long-time supporter of the ACA, Sen. Baucus (@MaxedBaucus) supports expanding Medicaid and Medicare benefits, increasing preventive services, and closing the prescription drug coverage gap under Medicare Part D. He also supports programs to provide access to health care for displaced workers, farmers, and ranchers. He has advocated to increase funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Click here to learn more.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)
Sen. Kerry (@JohnKerry) has been a steady advocate for expanding health coverage for children. He has also been behind legislation to improve funding for hospitals as well as consumer protection in the Medigap marketplace. A supporter of the ACA, Sen. Kerry also has worked to improve and expand access to health care in his own state, which functions under a single-payer system. In 2010, Sen. Kerry worked to provide incentives for small businesses to offer health insurance for their workers. He is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Click here to learn more.
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)
Sen. Kyl (@SenJonKyl) supports repealing the ACA, maintaining the belief that the law takes decision-making away from physicians and patients and puts it in the hands of the government. He also advocates for medical liability reform, the purchase of health insurance across state lines, and expanding coverage through improving the system of health spending and flexible spending accounts. He currently serves on the Senate Finance Committee. Click here for more on his preferred approach to health care reform.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)
Sen. Toomey (@SenToomey) cosponsored the bill the repeal the ACA. In an op-ed piece, Sen. Toomey voiced support for individuals purchasing health insurance, as opposed to an employer-based system, as well as purchasing coverage across state lines. He also supports the need for medial liability reform and federal regulations to allow small businesses and organizations to purchase health insurance on behalf of their members. He sees this as a path to decreasing costs and increasing competition. Click here to learn more.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio)
Sen. Portman (@robportman) does not support the ACA. He argues that the health care law increases costs for employers, making it more difficult for them to hire workers. Sen. Portman has voiced his support for expanding health savings accounts, purchasing health insurance across state lines, implementing tort reform, and encouraging medical innovation. Click here to learn more.
Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.)
Rep. Becerra (@RepBecerra) has spoken out in ardent support of the ACA, calling it “transformative.” He has advocated for the expansion of Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP. In 2010, Rep. Becerra was recognized by the California Hospital Association as a “health care champion” for his work to preserve $3 billion in Medicare funds for hospitals in California. Click here to learn more.
Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.)
Rep. Camp (@RepDaveCamp) is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. He was the first to introduce a bill to repeal the ACA, although he has supported certain aspects of the law including providing affordable coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions. Rep. Camp submitted his own alternative to the health care law, which he says will lower to cost of care without raising taxes or cutting Medicare. Click here to learn more.
Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.)
Rep. Clyburn (@Clyburn) was one of the main advocates for the passage of the ACA. He previously voted against capping damages in medical liability suits. Rep. Clyburn also supports the expansion of Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP, as well as negotiating prices for prescription drugs covered under Medicare Part D. Click here to learn more.
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.)
Rep. Upton (@RepFredUpton) advocates for repealing the ACA, expanding health savings accounts, allowing the purchase of coverage across state lines, and implementing medical liability reform. He has also spoken out against the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), an 15-person appointed board that will be tasked with reducing costs to Medicare, without affecting quality or coverage. IPAB opponents say it could take aim at reimbursements to health professionals, who already face a 30% pay cut in January. Rep. Upton serves as chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)
Rep. Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) supports the IPAB, saying it is a tool that ensures the solvency of Medicare. He has also argued against raising the age Medicare eligibility. In a recent interview with National Public Radio, Rep. Van Hollen said the government should improve incentives for doctors and hospitals to provide quality care. Rep. Van Hollen serves as ranking member of the House Budget Committee. Click here to learn more.
–Frances Correa (@FMCReporting on Twitter)
Research for this article was gathered from the following sources: govtrack.com, PRNewswire, Senate websites, House websites, politifact.com, ohiogop.com, ontheissues.org, politico.com, and npr.org