Miller, Waxman, Rangel Promise to Move Health Reform This Year

Members of the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee, particularly its chairman, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., are likely to play a central role in whatever health care reform legislation is launched in Congress this year. Miller and two other House committee chairmen, Henry Waxman and Charles Rangel, sent a letter Wednesday to President Obama promising to work together to pass national health reform.

Waxman, D-Calif., chairs Energy and Commerce, which has long been the lead House committee handling health legislation. Rangel, D-N.Y., chairs Ways and Means, which controls tax legislation. Rangel's committee held the first health care reform hearing in this 111th Congress on Wednesday, hearing testimony about medical delivery reform, competition between a public health plan and private plans, and the need to address the problem of uninsured Americans from Dr. John Z. Ayanian, M.D., MPP, on behalf of the Institute of Medicine Committee on Health Insurance Status and Its Consequences; Karen Davis, Ph.D., president of The Commonwealth Fund; and John M. Pickering, FSA, MAAA, principal, consulting actuary, Milliman, Inc. of Seattle. "Health reform cannot wait any longer," Rangel said when he announced the hearing. "President Obama made a significant investment in health reform in his budget, and this committee is eager to continue working with the administration to ensure success in our shared goal of improving the health system." He said health spending is expected to consume 17.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product this year and is projected to consume 20.3 percent by 2018 if current trends continue.

In their letter, the chairmen said they have agreed to coordinate their efforts to pass reform legislation this year. "In order to achieve our shared goal of enacting health reform this year, we will coordinate our committee consideration so that action on the House floor can occur before the August recess," they wrote.

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