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Republican leaders' health team

Illustration of a health care symbol with Republican elephants.

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Sure, you know the top three Republican leaders who are in line to run the House next year, but what do you know about their health care staffers? We can help with that.

  • We wrote about the health staffers for the new House Democratic leaders last week.

Kevin McCarthy’s office: Ryan Long 

What we know: Long has a wealth of health policy experience after working for committee leadership in the House and as a health care lobbyist for five years. We previously wrote about his strong connections on K Street. 

  • Long has had two separate stints on the Hill. He started out his career working for Reps. Charlie Norwood and Joe Barton in the late 1990s/early 2000s, but then he joined Energy and Commerce staff when Barton became committee chairman in 2004.
  • In 2006, he moved up to become the chief health counsel on E&C and stayed in that position for about seven years, until 2013, which also included working under former E&C Chair Fred Upton.
  • Long left the Hill in 2013 to work as a lobbyist for the BGR Group until 2018. He lobbied on behalf of Amgen, Eli Lilly, Eisai, Genentech, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Gilead, Pfizer, Sanofi, and Merck, as well as the large health lobbying groups PhRMA and AdvaMed, according to federal lobbyist registration filings.

In 2018, he rejoined E&C as a deputy staff director under former E&C Chair Greg Walden (who became ranking member in 2019), and then he joined McCarthy’s office as a senior policy adviser and counsel in January 2021.

  • He replaced former health staffer Katie Meyer, who we also wrote about previously as a top health lobbyist with a connection to McCarthy. 
  • Long told us in an email that one of the things McCarthy wants to see in the next Congress is health policymaking being returned back to the committees of E&C, Ways and Means, and Education and Labor. 

McCarthy on health care: His Commitment to America plan includes several health care goals focused on personalizing care, price transparency, investing in cures and improving telemedicine access.

  • In 2021, he sponsored one health-related bill that would have supported research for endemic fungal diseases, including Valley Fever, which is an issue in his California district. 
  • Earlier this year, he didn't rule out Medicare and Social Security being a part of debt ceiling talks, though he later walked back his statement.

Steve Scalise’s office: Alyene Mlinar

What we know: Mlinar has worked for Scalise in his whip office since January 2021, per LegiStorm.

  • She previously worked on health tax, Medicare Advantage, Medicare prescription drugs and other health reform policies for the Ways and Means Committee.
  • Earlier in her career, Mlinar was a research associate at the Heritage Foundation, where she wrote about the Affordable Care Act and Medicare. She also spent time in Sen. Ben Sasse’s office and on the Senate Republican Policy Committee.
  • “Market-based reform would put individuals in charge of their own health care and reward value by creating consumer pressure on providers to increase quality and decrease costs. Reform should be about individual choice, not government mandates,” she wrote in a 2015 post for the Heritage Foundation.

Scalise’s health record: The Louisiana congressman serves as ranking member of the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis and is a senior member on the Energy and Commerce Committee (though he will take leave from the committee next year).

  • Scalise has been a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act and whipped votes for the GOP’s ACA alternative in 2017.
  • Scalise's health priorities next year could include investigating COVID-19 origins, strengthening Medicare Advantage and making telehealth flexibilities permanent, one former GOP aide predicted to Axios. Scalise's office didn't respond to a question about his upcoming health priorities.

Tom Emmer's office: Liz Stinebaugh

What we know: Stinebaugh has been a legislative assistant in Emmer’s office since January, according to her LinkedIn page.

  • She worked her way up from being a staff assistant after graduating in 2018 from the University of St. Thomas in Emmer’s home state of Minnesota.

Emmer’s health work: Emmer has been most active on two health care issues: NIH funding and mental health.

  • He touted the House passage in July of a bill he co-sponsored to increase funding for children’s cancer research at the NIH, the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act 2.0.
  • He also has legislation to create an HHS office to better coordinate responses to mental health and substance use disorders. That passed the House this year as part of a larger mental health package that could be in play for an end-of-year agreement.

Reality check: As with Democratic leaders, top Republicans may hire new staff as they move up the ranks. We’ll let you know if and when we hear about that.

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