The new House Speaker’s views on health topics

Presented by PhRMA — Learn more about Mike Johnson’s positions.


 The Big Story 

The House has a new speaker, but Mike Johnson (R-La.) faces the same challenges that beset Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in finding enough Republican votes to pass legislation. 

© Greg Nash

In the short-term, he will need to tackle FY 2024 appropriations before the Nov. 17 deadline.


He will also need to find a way forward on the numerous “extenders” that expired at the end of September and have been languishing, including the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA), funding for community health centers, anti-opioid programs, and the PEPFAR program to combat AIDS and HIV.


Johnson has only served four terms in Congress, but he has a history of backing anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ legislation. 


He’s sponsored at least three bills that would restrict abortion on a national level, including the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children From Late-Term Abortions Act, and the Heartbeat Protection Act of 2021. He also voted against legislation to codify same-sex marriage into law.


As chairman of the Republican Study Commission, he drafted the group’s health care plan in 2019 and its fiscal year 2020 budget. 


The 2019 health plan revisited many of the concepts Republicans previously proposed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. It called for capping federal Medicaid funds, as well as expanded health savings accounts. It also would have created high-risk pools instead of guaranteeing coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. 


The 2020 budget called for raising the Medicare eligibility age and turning Medicare into a premium support program where private plans compete alongside traditional Medicare. Instead of a guaranteed benefit, beneficiaries would use a voucher to buy coverage on either a private or Medicare plan. 


Even though there’s been less attention in recent years on replacing ObamaCare, the ideas in the 2020 budget and 2019 health plan are popular among conservatives. If Republicans control Congress and the White House after the 2024 election, those policies could be a window into their health priorities.

Welcome to The Hill’s Health Care newsletter, we’re Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi — every week we follow the latest moves on how Washington impacts your health.

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Essential Reads 

How policy will be impacting the health care sector this week and beyond:

Democrats and abortion rights groups are seizing on the anti-abortion record of new House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and appear ready to use it as a cudgel against the GOP conference ahead of the 2024 elections. Throughout the day Wednesday, as Republicans coalesced around Johnson, Democrats were quick to point out what they called extreme comments and positions on abortion from the new Speaker. “Mike Johnson, probably …

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An Australian court has found Carnival Cruise Line and its cruise ship operator negligent for failing to cancel a trip from Sydney that led to a major COVID-19 outbreak Wednesday. The Ruby Princess ship left Sydney on March 8, 2020, with 2,671 passengers aboard for the 13-day cruise to New Zealand. The ship returned in 11 days because Australia was closing its borders due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus spread …

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A recent outbreak of salmonella has been linked to bagged pre-cut onions, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Tuesday. Gills Onions of Oxnard, Calif., recalled certain lots of fresh diced yellow onions, mirepoix and diced red onion after they were linked to dozens of reported illnesses and hospitalizations. The recalled products were sold at stores in Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana and Oregon, …

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On Our Radar 

Upcoming news themes and events we’re watching:

  • The Senate Aging Committee holds a Thursday hearing on therapies for serious, progressive diseases.

In Other News 

Branch out with a different read from The Hill:

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Abortions in the US rose slightly overall after post-Roe restrictions were put in place, study finds

The total number of abortions provided in the U.S. rose slightly in the 12 months after states began implementing bans on them throughout pregnancy, a new survey finds. The report out this week from the Society of Family Planning, which advocates for abortion access, shows the number fell to nearly zero in states with the strictest bans …

Around the Nation 

Local and state headlines on health care:

  • Planned Parenthood must face trial over Texas Medicaid fraud claims (Reuters)

  • Throwing a financial lifeline to rural NC health care providers (North Carolina Health News)

  • Youngkin bets 15-week abortion limit is winner in Virginia and beyond (Washington Post)

  • Florida’s proposed six-week abortion ban could cut access in half (The 19th News)

What We’re Reading 

Health news we’ve flagged from other outlets:

  • Voters in at least 10 states are trying to protect abortion rights. GOP officials are throwing up roadblocks. (ProPublica)

  • Europe takes steps to head off drug shortages, even as U.S. proposals stall (Stat)

  • Toddler milks are often not as healthy as they claim (NPR)

What Others are Reading 

Most read stories on The Hill right now:

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The second day of Michael Cohen’s testimony was suddenly overshadowed Wednesday when a judge asked former President Trump to take the witness … Read more

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House Republican Vice Chair Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) became the chamber’s Speaker on Wednesday, three weeks after Speaker Kevin McCarthy was … Read more

You’re all caught up. See you tomorrow! 

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