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Congress Gets to Work Following Historical Swearing-In Day for the 116th Congress

With the U.S. House of Representatives switching to Democratic control for the first time since 2010, and the Republicans gaining seats in the Senate, the voters in the 2018 midterm elections pulled the lever for divided government. While on election day it was more purple rain, than a blue wave, as more races were called, the Democrats increased their tally. With one race yet to be decided (North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District), Democrats gained at least 40 House seats to control the chamber by a margin of 235-199. Republicans increased their Senate majority by two seats and now hold a 53 to 47 advantage.

A surge of female candidates produced a record-breaking number of women elected to serve in the next Congress, shattering the prior record of 107. When the dust settles, more than 125 women will walk the halls of the House and Senate. Already the first female House speaker in history, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will once again serve as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and she now becomes the first woman to hold the job twice and the first person in nearly six decades to regain the post.

The 116th Congress also includes 16 physicians, including seven surgeons, with three new additions. They are:

  • Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.); Orthopaedic Surgeon
  • Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.); Gastroenterologist
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.); Ophthalmologist
  • Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-La.); Family Physician/Veterinarian
  • Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.); Internist
  • Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.); Thoracic Surgeon
  • Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas); OB/GYN
  • Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.); Family Physician
  • Rep. Neal Dunn (R-Fla.); Urologist
  • Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.); Emergency Room Physician
  • Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.); Anesthesiologist
  • Rep. John Joyce (R-Pa.); Dermatologist
  • Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.); OB/GYN
  • Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.); OB/GYN
  • Rep. Paul Ruiz (D-Calif.); Emergency Room Physician
  • Rep. Kim Schrier (D-Wash.); Pediatrician

While the AANS/CNS Washington Committee is in the process of developing its 2019 legislative and regulatory agenda, issues that will drive Congress’ health policy agenda will likely include:

  • Medicare for all/universal health care, including improving the Affordable Care Act (ACA);
  • Medicaid expansion, including Medicaid waivers and Medicaid work requirements;
  • Prescription drug prices;
  • Health care costs and transparency, including eliminating surprise medical bills and improvements to prior authorization processes; and
  • Ongoing efforts to address the opioid epidemic.

As we have already foretold in posts on Neurosurgery Blog, there is much to do in the 116th Congress, and organized neurosurgery stands ready to work with policymakers on key aspects of health policy in the coming year.

Stay tuned for what is certainly going to be a rollicking 2019!

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