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NEW SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCHELL WAS A KEY FIGURE IN CATASTROPHIC CARE

Executive Summary

NEW SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCHELL WAS A KEY FIGURE IN CATASTROPHIC CARE legislative development in 1987-88. As chairman of the Health Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee, the Maine Democrat was one of the four most active Senators in the crafting of an upper chamber response to the House bill. Early in the legislative process of forming an outpatient drug provision Mitchell was the spokesman for the phase-in approach. As a member of the House-Senate Conference Committee on the legislation, he successfully sponsored a provision for coverage of home-administered I.V. antibiotics, anticancer agents, and immunosuppressive drugs. The act provides that the therapies, which the conference committee called "Mitchell drugs," will be available beginning in 1990 to an estimated 10,000 patients who meet a $550 deductible and make a 20% copayment ("The Pink Sheet" May 30, p. 3). Mitchell was reportedly one of the more receptive Senate leaders to the positions of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association. One of PMA's lobbying firms on retainer is Griffin & Johnson. The principals in that firm are David Johnson, a former association staffer and Mitchell administrative assistant who helped run the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee under Mitchell in 1986, and Patrick Griffin, who was the former secretary to outgoing Majority Leader Byrd (D-W.Va.). Byrd is moving to chair the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is important to PMA because of the percolating FDA revitalization plan. Although Senate rules allow the majority leader to chair a subcommittee, Mitchell, who was elected to the leadership Nov. 29, has decided to vacate his post as Finance/Health Subcommittee chairman. However, he will remain an active member of the panel. Other Health Subcommittee members include Sen. Baucus (D-Mont.), who is the third ranking Democrat on the panel after Mitchell and Finance Committee Chairman Bentsen (D-Texas) and chairs the Taxation & Debt Management Subcommittee; Sen. Bradley (D-N.J.), who chairs the International Debt Subcommittee; Sen. Pryor (D-Ark.), who chairs the Retirement Plans & IRS Oversight Subcommittee; Sens. Riegle (D-Mich.) and Rockefeller (D-W.Va.). The 55-year old Maine senator also sponsored a long-term health care bill (S 2305) last spring. He plans to introduce a similar measure in the 101st Congress. In addition, Mitchell served on the Finance Committee's International Trade Subcommittee, which moved the Prescription Drug Marketing Act toward passage last spring. Mitchell became a potential candidate for the leadership position when he was elected chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in late 1984 and the Democrats regained control of the Senate in the 1986 national election. His performance during the Iran/Contra hearings also enhanced his stature. He defeated Sens. Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Johnston (D-La.) for the majority leadership.
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