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New chairs of House committees set sights on drug prices

House leaders picked their committee chairs last week. Here’s a look at who holds the gavel on key healthcare committees and their likely agendas.

House Oversight and Reform Committee


Chair Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.)

The panel has already set a hearing on high drug costs. Cummings has beat the drum on the issue for years and met with HHS Secretary Alex Azar last week to discuss the issue.

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) heads up the health subcommittee and told Modern Healthcare earlier this month that he sees his oversight role as encompassing industry as well as government. While there are no immediate plans to haul in executives from manufacturers and hospitals, he said he is open to it.

House Ways and Means Committee


Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.)

Co-sponsored legislation to broaden Obamacare subsidies—a proposal unlikely to go anywhere with the GOP Senate and White House— but he has promised to “flesh out alternatives” for coverage policies, including for “Medicare for all” or single-payer through regular-order hearings.

Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), one of the most outspoken pharma critics, will lead the Health Subcommittee. An advocate for broad Medicare negotiation with pharmaceutical companies, he cited drug prices as his top priority.

House Judiciary Committee


Chair Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) has at least promised to look at root causes of high healthcare costs, including consolidation.

New antitrust subcommittee Chair David Cicilline (D-R.I.) has been focused on monopolies and the impact on healthcare affordability. Already he’s warned that he’s going to take a hard look at hospital mergers as chatter starts around the House and Senate on legislation to tackle monopolies.

A spokesperson for Cicilline said “all options will be on the table as we investigate monopoly power in hospital markets.”

House Energy and Commerce Committee


Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.)

The committee governs Medicaid and will heavily influence drug pricing legislation. Pallone, who comes from a drug manufacturing hub, has so far focused on how the Trump administration is administering Obamacare.

Health Subcommittee Chair Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), a California Democrat from a biopharma district, fields consistent criticism for being pharma-friendly. The pro-pharma group Alliance to Protect Medical Innovation tweeted a glowing response to Eshoo’s comment to The Hill that she will be “fair” and not “punish” industry.

“Finally, a voice of reason: @RepAnnaEshoo warns against the rush to ‘punish’ pharmaceutical companies, calling for ‘the best policy that we can come up with,'” the group said.

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), who released a blueprint in November to tackle skyrocketing insulin prices, will take over the oversight arm of the panel with jurisdiction to look at drug costs. Her plan, part of her work as co-chair of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus, includes a sharp push to stop pay-for-delay tactics for generics.