Bucking the Leadership: Tracking Congressional Departures

Bucking the Leadership: Tracking Congressional Departures

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) announced his plans to resign from Congress on March 22 rather than stick it out through the rest of his term.   While it wasn’t an earthquake that upset the balance of power, the announcement certainly sent tremors pointing to the increasingly challenging environment facing Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) and Republican congressional leaders. Rep. Buck joins several other House GOP members on the list of resignations that have occurred this year. In conversations with the press, Buck hinted other similar retirements of House Republicans might be following. The current House Republican majority sits at 219 members to 213 for House Democrats. With Buck’s departure, that margin will shrink to 218-213. The margin will likely shrink to 218-214 when New Yorkers go to the polls on April 30 to select a replacement, likely a Democrat, for the recently retired Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY).  

Hope for Bipartisanship  

All of these resignations and retirements from Congress come with numerous political and policy ramifications.  Beyond the spectacle of it all, the narrow margins and volatility, combined with a divided Congress, mean that now more than ever, there is a need for bipartisanship to find policy solutions that can actually become law. Congress recently showed that bipartisanship is not dead in Washington D.C. and one area where we are seeing it occur is in health care policy. Congress (narrowly) avoided a government shutdown with an appropriations bill that included a “skinny” health care package. This package included an increase to partially address Medicare physician reimbursement rate cuts and reauthorizations for several health care programs. Some stakeholders expressed disappointment in what was not included in the legislation, such as reforms to address concerns about the practices of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). However, this bill showed signs that partisans in Congress still share some priorities in the health care space.  A March 12 Energy and Commerce Markup of 19 bipartisan health care bills also provides  hope for moving bipartisan health legislation addressing a range of issues such as  maternal health, mental health, dementia care, cancer screenings, and more. Adding additional cause for hope were comments from Rep. Larry Bucshon, MD (R-IN), expressing a positive outlook for bipartisan legislation to address nagging issues facing physicians under Medicare.  

What this Means for Stakeholders Looking for Action 

The recent resignations and retirements from Congress make it unlikely we will see the “big health care stuff” passed before the election. However, the weeks and months ahead will be crucial in laying the groundwork for additional health care legislation, including possible payment reforms, PBM reforms, the addressing of varying reimbursement rates for hospitals, and providing for the mental health needs of physicians. If you have a priority health issue, the time is now for stakeholders to get their message out to lawmakers and congressional staff. If you have a such an issue and need to navigate both sides of the aisle, please feel free to reach out to our team; we would be happy to talk about how we can help. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect With Us

Ready to connect? Let’s talk