The 1st Session of the 116th Congress is off to a brisk start. Given the fact that 2020 will involve an election to determine who will occupy the White House beginning in 2021, Congressional activity can be assessed within that context. Several Capitol Hill Democrats already have announced officially that they are in the race to decide which of them will be that party’s representative in the November election next year. A portion of the appeal of these candidates to voters will rest on legislative proposals that they endorse. Another venue where Congressional officials can operate effectively is as participants in hearings that highlight either defects in current Administration policies or alternative courses of action to adopt, which they espouse.

During his State of the Union Address to Congress on February 5, President Donald Trump served up a menu of examples of bipartisan cooperation that produced meaningful results, while also identifying areas where a reduction in partisan wrangling could lead to even more dramatic improvements in addressing topics of great importance to the nation’s welfare. Clearly, politics will provide a backdrop for what unfolds or fails to materialize between now and next year’s election. Not too surprisingly, the party in power always wants to be in the position of boasting of its enormous achievements, thereby furnishing a rationale why its leadership should be retained. The party out of power cannot be expected to cooperate in the passage of legislation that will burnish their opponents’ claims. Instead, it will redound more to their advantage to focus on the inadequacies of the other party and illustrate to voters in compelling terms why they would be better equipped to achieve more positive results once elected.

The President reminded his listeners on that occasion that both parties in the previous two years had come together: to pass unprecedented legislation to confront the opioid crisis, produce a sweeping new Farm Bill, and achieve historic Veterans Administration reforms. He said that as recently as only weeks ago, Democrats and Republicans united for groundbreaking criminal justice reform. Working closely with both groups, the Administration was able to sign the First Step Act into law, legislation that reformed previous sentencing laws that wrongly and disproportionately have harmed the African-American community. The Act gives non-violent offenders the chance to re-enter society as productive, law-abiding citizens.

Assuming that same cooperative spirit can prevail in the current session of Congress, then it may be possible to pass an infrastructure bill, including investments in cutting edge industries of the future. Along with proposing a nationwide paid family leave so that every new parent has the chance to bond with newborn children, the President identified the following objectives pertaining to health: (1) increase investments in HIV prevention programs, such as the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, and direct funding to launch new programs through community health centers to provide preventive medication to high-risk individuals, (2) allocate more than $500 million over the next 10 years to fund research for childhood cancer, (3) lower the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs and protect patients with pre- existing conditions, and (4) expand efforts to reduce “surprise billing” where patients are billed for care that is much more expensive than anticipated or is not covered by their insurance.

It is unclear whether any of these initiatives will see the light of day prior to November 2020. What is certain is that the 116th Congress will be worth monitoring to see what eventually unfolds.

More Articles from TRENDS February 2019


Suggests a link between chemical elements and the provision of health care services in the context of social determinants. Read More


Gregory Frazer, Dean and Professor, Covey College of Allied Health Professions at the University of South Alabama, is featured in this issue of TRENDS. Read More



Discusses the fate of the Cadillac tax in the Affordable Care Act, short-term Association Health Plans in relation to state regulations, and the impact of primary care on reducing health care costs and patient outcomes. Read More



Indicates a mechanism for reducing college student debt and the results of a request for comments on a proposed rule involving Title IX provisions for campus sexual assault allegations. Read More


  • Record Number Of Novel Medical Devices Approved By The FDA In 2018  

  • Nearly One-Quarter Of Antibiotic Prescriptions Filled Are Unnecessary 

  • Enhanced Toy Dog Robot Includes An Ability To Learn From Its Owners

  • Electrical Stimulation Of The Brain During Surgery Produces Immediate Laughter And Calm Read More



  • Adoption Of A National System For Electronic Use And Exchange Of Health Information

  • Current Status And Response To The Global Obesity Pandemic

  • How Innovation Will Blur Traditional Health Care Boundaries Read More



Provides information about the explosion of health devices in the marketplace aimed at consumers and challenges that confront health professionals attempting to select appropriate technologies that meet the requirements of specific applications for a clinical trial, research study, or a digital health service. Read More



Refers to disparities in language‐appropriate services in the in-patient hospital setting.  Read More