A PPS KEY CONTACT IS NOT PARTISAN
The general election in November resulted in many newly elected Representatives and Senators. We would love for you to continue in your role as a PPS Key Contact—for whomever represents your district—whether it is the incumbent or a newly-elected Member of Congress. The only exception would be if you were the PPS Key Contact for a member of the House of Representatives who has won a seat in the Senate, we'd like you to "follow" them to the Senate in order to sustain the relationship you have been building with the Senator-elect since you became their PPS Key Contact.
Remember, the role of a PPS Key Contact is not a partisan one. The person elected to represent your district or state represents you, regardless of your or their political preferences or affiliation. You are their constituent and they need to hear from you about the legislative and advocacy priorities of private practice physical therapists. Please reach out to Alpha, the PPS lobbyist, if you have any questions or concerns.
Advocacy Opportunity 1: Please look through your photo archives and send us photos that you have taken either with a Member of Congress or when a Member of Congress or legislator-elect visited your clinic. We’d like to post them on the PPS advocacy webpage as examples of how our PPS Key Contacts are engaging with legislators.
Because this is the end of the legislative year and we are not anticipating any legislation that will impact rehabilitation therapy to be passed between now and the end of the year this update will focus instead on the impact the election will have on the 116th Congress which will be sworn in on January 3, 2019.
In the House of Representatives
So far Democrats have won 233 seats and Republicans have won 200 seats. As of this writing, the winners of 2 seats (NY-22, and NY-27) have to be determined. However, even before the results of those races are known, the Democrats have won enough seats to claim a sizable majority in the House for the 116th Congress and will have access to all the power that goes with that. The Speaker of the House will be a Democrat (likely to be Nancy Pelosi, but not necessarily). Also, the portion of Democrats and Republicans sitting on each of the committees will change. This is because the number of members on a committee and the ratio of majority/minority members will be determined by the Democrats who will be the majority party.
Additionally, each committee has its own professional staff. By House rules, two-thirds of those staff are selected by the majority committee members and one-third is selected by the minority members. While it has yet to be determined who will be hired to staff positions for the Committees, some of the personal office health policy staffers you know may become Committee staff. If so, those relationships could enable us to have better access to information and more influence in pursuit of policies which impact physical therapy.
In the Senate
As expected, the Republicans retained control of the Senate. Four of the seats which switched from Democrat to Republican control were in those states (Florida, Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota) were in states won handily by President Trump in 2016. As of this writing, the Republicans have won 52 seats; the Democrats have secured 47 seats.
One Senate race remains undecided. In Mississippi, there will be a runoff election on Tuesday, November 27th because neither Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) or Mike Espy (D) received over 50% of the votes cast on Election Day. Regardless of who wins these two races, the Republicans will remain in the majority—it just remains to be seen what the proportion will be.
Impact on Relevant Committees of Jurisdiction
In addition to the sixteen known vacancies on House committees of jurisdiction due to retirements and primary election losses, there will be additional shuffling of committee memberships because the Democrats will now be the majority in the House of Representatives. As a result, some Republicans who have served on these committees will lose their spots and be replaced by Democrats. It is also likely that each committee of jurisdiction will be assigned some new members who have little or no background in healthcare policy. This provides a great opportunity to educate those new members about the value of physical therapy.
Here’s how it breaks down:
House of Representatives
On the House Ways & Means Committee a minimum of 14 members will change from the 115th Congress roster to the 116th Congress roster. On the Energy & Commerce Committee a minimum of eight members will change. Additionally, one sitting member of the E&C Health Subcommittee, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY-27), has yet to know whether or not he will win re-election; however, he has also been indicted for insider trading, so even if he wins his re-election bid, he may not serve his full term in the 116th Congress. A minimum of five members will change on the House Veterans Committee and a minimum of three members will change on the Small Business Committee.
At least four members of the Senate Finance Committee will change. The current Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch retired and while Mitt Romney won his seat, he won’t necessarily be placed on the Senate Finance Committee; that decision will be made by Majority Leader McConnell and the Republican leadership. Due to election losses, the roster of the Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, the Veterans Committee and the Small Business Committee will each change by at least one member.
IMPACT ON LEGISLATION in the 116th CONGRESS
As a result of the “split” of political affiliation, the House of Representatives and Senate will be pitted against one another for the 116th Congress. Democrats in the House are eager to stand up to what they see as the Administration’s efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. They will do so by pushing provisions to shore up protections for those with pre-existing conditions, protecting the required inclusion of Essential Health Benefits in commercial insurance products, and funding health insurance subsidies. It is also likely that there will be a discussion of Medicare for All; however, because there is a range of political opinions within the caucus of Democrats, we anticipate that will not gain much traction beyond the introduction of bills and perhaps some committee hearings.
House Democrats will do this even though it’s not likely they will be able to turn those bills and policy ideas in to law. This is because the Senate is still controlled by the Republicans, and the upper chamber is under no obligation to respond to the House’s efforts and will pursue their own legislative agenda. As you know, in order to become law, a bill needs to pass both chambers, then if there are differences between the House-passed and Senate-passed bills those discrepancies must be reconciled before the language is sent to the President for his signature. The policies which have the best chance to become law will be those with strong bi-partisan support.
Advocacy Opportunity 2:
The Government Affairs Committee (GAC) is meeting on December 3rd and 4th to determine the PPS legislative and advocacy priorities for the 116th Congress. Email Alpha or any GAC member with policy suggestions. Tell us what PPS should be focusing on for the next two years - to serve your needs - and the needs of your patients.
Thank you for your continued advocacy!
For one-pagers, talking points, and information on PPS’s legislative priorities and activities, visit the Advocacy section at www.ppsapta.org