The United States House of Representatives’ website explains the path of a bill that a member introduces. Once a bill is introduced, it is “assigned its legislative number by the Clerk and referred to the appropriate committee by the Speaker . . . .” [emphasis added]
The Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, considered that the “appropriate committee” to address the American Health Care Act was the Energy and Commerce Committee. Please let this sink in. Many of the House’s Standing Committees have Health Subcommittees (including Ways & Means, Education and the Work Force, and House Oversight), but Speaker Ryan decided that the primary framework for Health Care is Commerce. (By the way, this particular Committee of the House is a very old one, originally chartered in 1795 as the House Committee on Commerce and Manufacturers.) This Committee’s roots and its growth has been tied to the interests in America of the commercial class, which, in turn, is profit-driven.
This particular post is not a diatribe about the commercial class, or about the profit motive embedded in capitalism. It is about recognizing that Speaker Ryan, in a chillingly Rand-like way, determined that the health care and well-being of more than 321 million children, women, and men is most appropriately framed in commercial terms. That is, the Committee charged with considering this Act is designed to see to the specific interests of Chambers of Commerce, of Big Business, of the Health-Care Industry.
Inarguably, there is a great deal of money on the table when it comes to attending to the health of Americans. The question is where should the appropriate allegiance be in deciding how to use public funding and how to provide privileges and ensure regulations of the pharmaceutical, biomedical, insurance, and health-provider industries. Not surprisingly, the American Health Care Act’s allegiance is with these industries.