STS News, Winter 2013 -- The results of the contentious fall elections have brought exciting opportunities for STS to develop broader relationships with the legislative and executive branches of government. As President Barack Obama gets ready to start his second term, the 113th Congress will convene with a similar makeup than before the election. Republicans retained their majority in the House of Representatives, though their advantage shrank from 49 to 33 members. In the Senate, the Democrats expanded their majority from 51 to 53 members, with all Democratic incumbents winning their respective races.
STS-PAC Supports Congressional Candidates
Two STS members in Congress ran for re-election this past fall. Rep. Larry Bucshon, MD (R-IN) won his race and will keep his seat in Indiana’s 8th District. Rep. Charles Boustany, MD (R-LA) won a run-off election on December 8 against another incumbent, Representative Jeff Landry (R-LA), whose district was re-drawn last year.
Candidates supported by STS-PAC fared well this past election cycle, with 54 of 67 supported candidates earning victories. STS-PAC supported five non-incumbent Senate candidates, and three were elected. Of the Republicans supported by STS-PAC, 28 of 34 candidates were elected. On the other side of the aisle, 26 of the 33 Democrats supported by STS-PAC were elected.
Even though the campaign season is over, STS-PAC’s work is not done. For the Society to maintain its leading position as a trusted source for health care policy guidance, STS needs the support of all its members.
Update on Committee Leadership
As the majority/minority ratios for the incoming 113th Congress have remained largely the same, we may see little change in committee leadership in both the House and Senate.
House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp (R-MI) and Ranking Member Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) should retain their positions; however, longtime congressman Rep. Fortney “Pete” Stark (D-CA) lost his bid for re-election, and Democrats will have to fill his seat as the ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Health.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee will most likely retain its current Chairman, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), and Ranking Member, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA).
In the Senate, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) will remain Chair of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. It is likely that Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) will take over as the top Republican on the Committee with the departure of current Ranking Member Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), who is term-limited as the Republican Committee leader. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) are likely to remain at their posts, but the Committee is losing four members to retirement.
With economic challenges still looming large, it was apparent from the post-election tone struck by both the President and congressional Republican leaders that cooperation between the two parties is a prerequisite to moving forward. Included among those challenges is the need to repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate formula, eliminate the threat of sequestration of federal health care funds, and develop a new Medicare physician payment model that ensures individual medical specialties can—and have incentive to—control the growth rate of their services and payments by identifying the most effective and appropriate treatments for patients.
The Society is calling on each of its members to take a leadership position by demonstrating the vital role of cardiothoracic surgery in health care policy. STS members interested in becoming more involved in these advocacy efforts should contact STS Government Relations staff at advocacy [at] sts [dot] org.