The 2022 Midterm Elections: Where Do We Go From Here?

Published in Government Relations on December 06, 2022

Originally Posted: Dec. 6, 2022
Updated: Dec. 12, 2022

Where Do We Go From Here? From a DMEPOS Grassroots Perspective.

Here we sit a month after the Nov. 8 midterm elections, and we are still awaiting election results. One Senate seat in Georgia is in a runoff that will take place on Jan. 6, 2022. Currently, the Democrats retain control of the Senate with a one-seat advantage (50-49). Two House seats still need to be decided with ballots still needing to be tabulated: California’s 13th District and Colorado’s 3rd. In the House, the Republicans have taken control of the chamber with almost the exact flip of what the Democrats had control of in the last congress (117th). The 118th Congress will be sworn in on Jan 3, 2023, with what looks to be a slim majority in the House for Republicans at 222 to 213 for Democrats (both House sets that have yet to be called “Lean Republican”). This effectively means the government is split once again.  

In the Senate, there was a runoff in the state of Georgia between Republican (Herchel Walker) and current Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock. On Dec. 6, the election was called and Senator Warnock won the runoff giving Democrats the Senate majority of 51-49. However, neither outcome of the runoff would have given the majority to the Republicans because if Walker had won the count would have been 50-50 with the tie-breaking vote of the Vice President (who is President of the Senate by our Constitution). Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), will control what legislation moves in the Senate. Neither the majority nor minority has announced committee assignments, but there are still seven freshman Senators to meet with.

In the House, the control is already called for the Republicans 220-222 (depending on final election results) seats to 213-215 for the Democrats. Republicans will control committees, and with the gavel comes the ability to move legislation. If one remembers their civic classes, they will remember that for a “bill” to become law, it will need to pass in House first (the House controls appropriations or what is called the “purse”), then pass in the Senate. If the companion bills are not identical, they must go to a conference committee (joint Senate and House conference) to iron out the differences. The identical bills then go back to the House and Senate to be voted on again. If passed by both chambers, the bill moves to the President to be signed into law. In a divided Congress, this will be hard to do unless members of both parties can come together in a bipartisan manner to pass legislation. If the reader will think back in recent memory over the last 20-25 years, the industry has not fared well when one party has control of both the legislative (House and Senate) and the Executive (President) branches. Competitive Bidding was enacted during one such period of one-party rule. With a divided government, misfortunes for the DMEPOS industry are less likely to happen. Changes to current policy are harder to achieve. During a period of divided government, it will take relationships with members of both parties to move legislation. This is where a strong grassroots effort comes in.  

Grassroots to the Rescue 

We as an industry will want to prioritize our grassroots effort based on: 

  1. Members of Key Committees of Jurisdiction for Health Care (Senate Finance, House Ways & Means, House Energy & Commerce) 
  2. New members assigned to Key Committees 
  3. Freshman members of the 118th Congress in both the House and the Senate  

In conjunction with VGM and AAH’s Government Accountability Project (GAP), where we match each Senator or Representative with at least one DME provider in every state or congressional district, we will want to set up “meet and greet” events where possible, either in the Senator or Representative’s office or preferably at a provider location. During the meet and greet, we want to both showcase what it is that DME providers do and identify the issues that we face and the priorities we have for their legislative consideration. To be effective, we will want to set these meetings up with the three key constituents listed above, during the f first and second quarters.  

We have our work cut out for us! During the 117th Congress and prior to the midterm elections, 73 members of Congress (seven Senators, six republicans, and one Democrat) and 66 Representatives (38 Democrats and 28 republicans) announced they would not seek re-election or lost in their primary election. Add to those nine seats so far (still two races outstanding) where incumbents lost House seats on Nov. 8, which include three Republicans and six Democrats. So, there are potentially 80+ new members of Congress that we need to get in front of. A vast majority of those freshman have absolutely no idea what DMEPOS even stands for.  

For a list of information by state on the new members of congress, click here

On a positive note, in the last couple of days, both parties have indicated a desire to decentralize control within both the House and the Senate. For many years, and for both parties, control had been tightly held by leadership (Speaker, House Majority Leader, and Senate Majority Leader). Congressional membership after this last midterm election has wanted to shake that up a bit and return some legislative power back to the Committees and Committee Chairs. At this time, both parties have yet to finalize their “Rules Committee” work to determine how the House and Senate will operate, who will be on what committee, and how a member of Congress can bring legislation forward. But indications are that rank-and-file members of Congress want more say in what makes it to the floor for a vote.  

Current Key Committees 

As soon as the Committee assignments are finalized, be on the lookout for your opportunity to partner with VGM Government Relations to create legislative champions for our industry. Together we will be barnstorming the country to create a movement that will propel the DMEPOS industry to new heights! In the meantime, here’s where things stand. 

As indicated above, the three main committees that we as an industry work with are the Senate, the Finance Committee (SFC), the House Ways and Means (W&M), and Energy and Commerce (E&C). There will be many new faces on these committees in the new 118th Congress based on members' retirement, lost re-elections, and/or resignation for one reason or another. On the Senate Finance Committee alone, there were three Republicans who retired. Therefore, three new members will need to be identified and assigned to the committee. Those new members will be Senators we will want to quickly have meetings and develop relationships with.  

To see all the changes in these key committees, click here


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