December 20, 2021

An Insider Perspective: End-of-Year Focus Areas for the House Energy and Commerce Committee

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce has the broadest jurisdiction of any authorizing committee in Congress. While its jurisdiction extends to issues that include national energy policy, motor vehicle safety, travel and tourism, foreign commerce, and environmental protection, it also legislates on a number of important health-specific issue areas, including mental health and substance abuse, health insurance, and biomedical research and development.

Over the past year, the Energy and Commerce Committee has taken on several high-profile health care issues: surprise medical billing, prescription drug price negotiation reform, pandemic preparedness, and strengthening the health care workforce, among others. Given the significant impact of this Committee’s work on health and health care in the United States, the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) invited Grace Graham, chief health counsel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee and chief advisor on health policy for Republican Leader Rodgers, to speak during SWHR’s December Policy Advisory Council meeting on what Committee staff are planning to tackle during the comings months and where stakeholders could help inform the legislative process.

Graham noted at the outset that one of the greatest challenges the Committee faced was legislating when there is so much uncertainty surrounding future law—namely whether or not the government will be on continuing resolutions for the next year or if programs will be provided with new funding levels (and if so, what those new funding levels will be).

Even with the uncertainty of funding legislation and the status of the Build Back Better Act, Graham identified a few additional key places where the Committee is currently focusing its attention:

Stakeholder and constituent insight and input are greatly valued across Capitol Hill, which Graham emphasized during her comments, and there are several opportunities for individuals to make their voices heard. These opportunities include, but are not limited to, the structure of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H); insight on which programs and initiatives from the 21st Century Cures Act are working well and which aren’t to help inform Cures 2.0; input on user-fee priorities; and information on relevant research being conducted at federal agencies, particularly those that “don’t always get the limelight,” like the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

As developments continue to unfold on Capitol Hill—with fiscal year 2022 spending legislation, the Build Back Better Act, and beyond—SWHR looks forward to working with the Energy and Commerce Committee on developing legislation and federal policies that will support and promote women’s health and well-being.