Health Care in the New Congress: Insiders Look Ahead

The 2004 election featured debates on major health issues including costs, access, and affordable prescription drugs. These issues will likely be subjects of continued focus during the upcoming Congress.

What health care legislation might be possible in 2005? The 2006? On what do Republicans and Democrats agree, and where do wide differences of opinion remain? Given President Bush’s agenda, what shape might legislation take on subjects such as tax policies to help the uninsured (including Health Savings Accounts), Medicaid and SCHIP coverage, racial and ethnic disparities, and malpractice reform?

To help address these and related questions, the Alliance for Health Reform and the Kaiser Family Foundation sponsored a December 10, 2004 briefing. Panelists included some of the people who were expected to be most involved in health legislation to emerge from the 109th Congress: Dean Rosen, top aide on health matters to Senate Majority Leader William H. Frist, M.D.; Alice Weiss, Democratic staff member of the Senate Finance Committee; Charles Clapton, chief health counsel for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Republican staff; Cybele Bjorklund, key Democratic staff member of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee; and a Bush Administration representative. Diane Rowland of Kaiser made brief remarks and Ed Howard of the Alliance moderated the discussion.