Rep. Neal in New Post Says the Focus is Healthcare

While much attention was focused on Question 1 in, other developments in the national political scene could greatly affect Massachusetts healthcare.

Now that Democrats have regained control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Massachusetts Rep. Richard Neal (D) will become chairman of the powerful Ways & Means Committee through which all legislation dealing with taxes, trade, healthcare, and Social Security, among other topics, flows.

"It's pretty clear that the most important issue last night was the issue of healthcare," Neal said last Wednesday in a post-election news conference. "And I want to say that at the Ways and Means Committee, that will be the priority issue that we bring up — ensuring and defending the idea that people who are born with an ailment are not wrongfully treated because of a pre-existing condition. We intend to enshrine the principle of pre-existing condition as a guarantee of our national network through the [Affordable Care Act].”

He stated, “I will be unyielding in defense of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid,” noting that many Massachusetts hospitals – he specifically mentioned Holyoke Hospital and Berkshire Medical Center, which he referred to as a “jewel” – get the majority of their funding from Medicare and MassHealth. Neal also said he hopes he is able to work with the administration on lowering prescription drug pricing.

Another important Congressional development for Massachusetts is the likelihood of Rep. James McGovern (D) being appointed chairman of the House Rules Committee, which decides how or if legislation can be debated or changed when it comes to the House floor.