Kennedy Turns to U.S. Senators To Lead Health Reform Work Groups
On Tuesday, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) named committee members to lead working groups that will target specific aspects of the health care system in writing overhaul legislation, the Washington Post's "The Trail" reports.
- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) as head of the group on insurance coverage, Â (Connolly, "The Trail," Washington Post, 11/19);
- Senate Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee Chair and HELP committee member Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) to lead the task force on prevention; and
- Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) to lead the task force on quality (Levey, Los Angeles Times, 11/19).
Kennedy said, "Our committee is fortunate to have the services of major leaders who are committed to improving health care for the American people," adding, "I look forward very much to working with them" (Marcus, Bloomberg, 11/18).
According to CongressDaily, the naming of subgroup leaders signals that Kennedy "will produce legislation that originates in Congress rather than try to ram through a bill from the White House."
On Tuesday, Harkin released his ideas for improving preventive health, including providing incentives for schools and employers to offer wellness programs, encouraging childhood nutrition and physical activity, and granting FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products.
He said, "I have long believed that prevention and wellness are the keys to solving our health care crisis," adding, "We must re-create America as a 'wellness society' focused on fitness, good nutrition and disease prevention -- ultimately keeping people out of the hospital in the first place."
Clinton's and Mikulski's offices did not comment on the announcement reports (Edney , CongressDaily, 11/19).
Kennedy, Baucus Meeting
Kennedy is scheduled to meet with Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and other Senate leaders on Wednesday to discuss how they will move forward with a health care overhaul.
Baucus last week released details of his own universal health care proposal.
When asked whether he or Kennedy would be in charge of moving an overhaul bill through the Senate, Baucus said, "I don't care, as long as we get it done." He added, "That's why we're meeting [on Wednesday], to show that we're working together" and to "parcel out which committee is working on what" (Armstrong, CQ Today, 11/18).
The meeting will also include:
- HELP Committee ranking member Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.);
- Senate Banking Committee Chair Chris Dodd (D-Conn.);
- Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa);
- Finance Health Subcommittee Chair Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.); and
- Finance Health Subcommittee ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) (CongressDaily, 11/18).