KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Henry Waxman Retiring After Four Decades In Congress

The former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee has been one of the Democratic party's public health champions, helping to craft the sweeping 2010 health care law which he called one of his "lifelong dreams … finally achieved."

The New York Times: Henry Waxman, Key Democrat And Force For Health Care Law, Is To Retire
Mr. Waxman’s departure after 20 terms in the House will be particularly poignant. One of his most notable accomplishments, the Affordable Care Act, which he was instrumental in writing, is shaping up as the centerpiece of campaigns all over the country, not as a triumph but as a Republican cudgel. And the expansion of Medicaid that he has championed has been challenged in a number of states run by Republican governors (Weisman, 1/30).

Kaiser Health News: Rep. Waxman, Passionate Advocate For Medicaid And Public Health Issues, Announces His Retirement
Rep. Henry A. Waxman, a California Democrat who is one of the Medicaid program's most vocal -- and effective -- champions, announced Thursday he plans to retire from the House at the end of this year, his 40th on Capitol Hill. The former Energy and Commerce Committee chairman has been one of his party's central figures in the highest profile health care debates, most recently helping to craft the sweeping 2010 health care law, which Waxman said was one of his "lifelong dreams … finally achieved (Carey, 1/31).

NPR: Rep. Waxman Leaves Behind A Legacy Of Health Laws
California Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman, one of the last remaining members of the huge post-Watergate class of 1974, is calling it quits at the end of this term. Most people who live outside his Los Angeles district and off Capitol Hill have likely never heard of Waxman. He was never a fixture on the Sunday talk shows, or in Washington's social scene. Rather, during his 40 years in the House of Representatives, Waxman focused on passing legislation — lots of legislation (Rovner, 1/31).

Los Angeles Times: Rep. Henry Waxman to Retire After Four Decades In Congress
His retirement, which set off a political scramble among potential replacements, was the latest of a series of departures that are remaking the state's long-stable congressional delegation. It also brings an end to an era of Democratic political activism that opened when a huge class of Democrats, including Waxman, entered the House in the post-Watergate election of 1974 (Simon, 1/30).

Los Angeles Times: ‘End Of An Era’: Washington Reacts To Rep. Henry Waxman’s Retirement
"One of the giants of Congress." "A tough partisan, but above all, an institutionalist." "End of an era."
Those were among the reactions Thursday to the announcement by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) that he would be retiring from Congress after 40 years. Tributes came from environmental and health groups, whose causes Waxman championed, and Democratic allies and Republican adversaries (Simon, 1/30).

The Washington Post: Henry Waxman To Retire At End Of Congressional Session
Waxman is the 17th House member — 10 Republicans; seven Democrats — to call it quits. Fourteen others are running for the Senate or for governor. Although his Los Angeles seat appears almost certain to remain Democratic, his departure after 20 terms will leave a void of experience and legislative skill in the liberal ranks (Tumulty, 1/30).

Politico: Henry Waxman’s Rich Legislative Legacy
But anyone who has worked in the Washington policy trenches over the past four decades — especially in public health and the environment — also will remember Waxman as a legislative maestro who had an instinctive feel for finding the perfect equilibrium to pass landmark legislation (Samuelsohn and Kenen, 1/31). 

The Associated Press/Washington Post: 20-Term Dem Waxman To Retire; Sandra Fluke May Run
By days’ end, a prominent liberal activist was weighing a run to replace Waxman. “I am strongly considering running,” Sandra Fluke, the former Georgetown University law student who testified to congressional Democrats that she wanted her college health plan to cover her birth control. Radio personality Rush Limbaugh branded her a “slut,” but later apologized. “I’ll be making my decision soon,” Fluke said Thursday. Waxman himself said he never expected to serve in the House for so long (1/30).

In other Capitol Hill news -

Los Angeles Times: House GOP Will Offer Obamacare Alternative This Year
House Republicans plan to pass a healthcare reform bill that could replace the Affordable Care Act, Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced Thursday. The No. 2 House Republican included the announcement in his presentation to rank-and-file members at the party’s three-day retreat here on its legislative agenda for 2014. Cantor’s promise comes just two days after President Obama, during his State of the Union address, mocked the House for its repeated efforts to repeal his signature legislative accomplishment (Memoli, 1/30).

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