U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) today was once again chosen by his Democratic colleagues on the House Energy and Commerce Committee to chair the committee's powerful Subcommittee on Health. The New Jersey congressman served in the same position for the last two years during the 110th Congress.
The subcommittee has sole jurisdiction over Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and shares jurisdiction of Medicare with the House Ways and Means Committee. The subcommittee oversees public health, biomedical programs, food, drug and device safety, mental health and research, hospital construction and all health care homeland security-related concerns.
Pallone issued the following statement after being chosen again as chairman.
"It is indeed an honor to once again receive the support of my colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee to serve as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health.
"As the 111th Congress convenes, our nation faces enormous economic challenges that will impact a health care system that is already in crisis and getting worse every day. I am committed to working with President-elect Obama, the Committee and the Congress to develop an agenda that will improve our nation's health care system for all Americans.
"Last Congress, my top priority was strengthening the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) so that 10 million children would have access to quality health care coverage. Twice, Congress passed legislation that I helped develop accomplishing this goal, but both times President Bush vetoed the bills. Next week, the House will once again vote on this very important legislation. I am confident it will pass with strong bipartisan support, and will then be signed into law by Barack Obama after he becomes president.
"I will also continue to work with my colleagues in crafting the health care provisions that will be included in the economic recovery package.
"As the original author of legislation that would temporarily increase each state's Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) during this economic downturn, I will continue to push for its inclusion in the recovery package so that states can continue to provide critical health care services to those hurt most by this economic recession.
"After moving Health Information Technology (HIT) legislation through the Subcommittee last year, I am also anxious to work with my colleagues in crafting HIT provisions for the overall recovery package that will modernize our health care system, strengthen the quality of care and lower overall costs.
"In the coming weeks, I also expect to begin holding hearings on the need to overhaul our nation's health care system. Our current health care system is not sustainable without significant reform, and I look forward to working with the Obama administration to develop comprehensive legislation that ensures every American has access to quality and affordable health coverage.
"The Subcommittee will also focus on the FDA, and the need to pass food safety legislation that includes a more thorough system to prevent contaminated food products from reaching store shelves. In order to accomplish this goal, I will once again introduce comprehensive legislation that includes the players at every stage of food production.
"I will continue to work with my colleagues on the Subcommittee to arrive at a consensus on a generic biologics bill that will provide patients with better access to life-saving and lower cost biologic drugs.
"As chairman, I will also continue to be a strong advocate for the expansion of NIH medical research and will raise awareness about the need to improve minority health and eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities that currently exist in our country."