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House Democrats Return to Power, Plan Hearings on ACA, Climate Change, Immigration Health

Allison Inserro
Wednesday marked the start of the 116th Congress, as Democrats took charge of the House of Representatives for the first time since 2011, and the new chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee announced 3 hearings about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), climate change, and the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
Wednesday marked the start of the 116th Congress, as Democrats took charge of the House of Representatives for the first time since 2011, and the new chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee announced 3 hearings about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), climate change, and the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey became chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which handles major healthcare legislation. Like new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, he has said that he hopes to reverse steps by the Trump administration and work on controlling prices for prescription drugs.

“Our priority has to be stabilizing the Affordable Care Act, preventing the sabotage that the Trump administration has initiated,” he recently told Roll Call.

Pallone, who was also head of the committee in 2010 when the ACA became law, announced the 3 hearings after the “passing of the gavel” ceremony.

The first hearing, expected later this month, will assess the environmental and economic impacts of accelerating climate change, which is forecast to have devastating impacts on human health.

The second hearing will examine the impacts of the decision last month by a US district judge to declare the ACA unconstitutional.

“This decision, if it is upheld, will endanger the lives of millions of Americans who could lose their health coverage. It would also allow insurance companies to once again discriminate against more than 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions,” the committee said in a statement Thursday.

Also on Thursday, a coalition of blue states announced they will appeal the judge’s ruling to the US Court of Appeals 5th Circuit. In addition, House Democrats say they plan to vote next week to allow their own general counsel to assist the states in that effort, Politico reported.

The committee will also hold a hearing looking at the administration’s policy separating undocumented immigrant families at the border and will call on HHS officials to explain how it is caring for children in various facilities.

Two children have died at the border over the past month, and the American Academy of Pediatrics and other health organizations have condemned the practice. Last week, the Department of Homeland Security ordered Border Patrol to increase medical screenings.

 
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