Congresswoman Nancy Johnson, the most senior woman in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 109th Congress, is a recognized authority on national health care and tax policy. Mrs. Johnson served 24 years in Congress, from 1983-2007, and was hailed a bipartisan leader who co-authored the national Children’s Health Insurance Program with Senator Ted Kennedy, worked closely with Congressman Charlie Rangel on school construction and low income housing funding, helped write the Medicare Modernization Act with Senator Max Baucus and authored numerous health policy initiatives as chairwoman of the Health Subcommittee. As a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee and free-trade proponent, Mrs. Johnson played an integral role in passage of every major tax cut bill, trade agreement and health care initiative during her tenure on the committee.
Hailed by the non-partisan Almanac of American Politics as “one of the most active and productive legislators in the House,” Johnson’s legislative accomplishments reflected the diverse interests of her district, and included improving health care for seniors and children, lowering taxes for working families, strengthening manufacturing to compete globally, encouraging entrepreneurship, improving our schools, and protecting the environment.
As a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, she was the first Republican woman to be so appointed and also the first woman to chair one its subcommittees. As a member and chairwoman one of the Health Subcommittee, Johnson co-authored the laws that expanded Medicare to cover prescription drug benefits, chronic disease management, increased preventive health benefits and coverage of care offered by nurse specialists, physician assistants and nutritionists. She also introduced the Health Information Technology legislation that led to the establishment of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS and fought for congressional support to encourage health care providers to adopt technology capable of providing electronic health records, decision support systems and other capabilities to reduce medical errors and improve care quality.
Johnson also wrote the law that created the children’s health insurance program, known as HUSKY in Connecticut, and funded residency programs at childrens’ hospitals. She was a strong supporter of mental health parity and the Community Health Centers, reforming their malpractice coverage system and freeing millions of dollars for direct care. She passed bills to reduce the cost of long-term care and has led the Long-Term Care Coalition with Rep. Pomeroy and Sens. Baucus and Grassley and serves on the Kerry-Gingrich National Commission for Quality Long-Term Care.
As chairwoman of the Human Resources Subcommittee, Johnson improved foster care programs, expanded the Independent Living Program to support teenagers aging out of foster care and going to college or transitioning into the work place. She championed transitional health and child care benefits for families leaving welfare and led the adoption of much stronger laws to enforce child support responsibilities. Over many sessions, she worked tirelessly to protect children from sex predators on the Internet. Her legislative initiatives expanded the legal authority and better funded the FBI and local police to more effectively identify and apprehend sex predators and to educate children and parents about the dangers as well as the promise of the Internet.
Congresswoman Johnson worked successfully to cut taxes for families and expand retirement saving opportunities. She worked to reform pension laws so more small businesses and excluded groups of workers could enjoy tax subsidized savings opportunities. She also worked to simplify and reduce taxes on small businesses to strengthen the entrepreneurial sector of our economy and through both trade and tax initiatives to level the playing field for manufacturers to enable them to compete in the global economy. Whether expanding the research and development tax credit, increasing expensing and other investment incentives, or better enforcing anti-counterfeiting and other such initiatives to counter unfair trade practices, Congresswoman Johnson was a career long advocate of manufacturing in this era of globalization.
As the chairwoman of the Oversight Subcommittee, she authored a series of taxpayer rights bills that provided protections for individuals and small businesses from an often too aggressive IRS. Under her chairmanship the recommendations of the commission to reorganize the IRS were reviewed and the laws adopted made the IRS a more consumer friendly, modern and accountable agency.
Throughout her career, Congresswoman Johnson established a record as a committed environmentalist. Her focus on river quality and open space resulted in the protection of millions of acres of Connecticut forests and agriculture lands, the inclusion of the Farmington River in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Program, the designation of the Connecticut River as a Heritage River and the recognition of Connecticut’s Northwest corner as a National Heritage Area. She has also been a steadfast opponent of drilling in the ANWR and a proponent of better funding of the national park system and open space preservation. She has championed our clean air and clean water laws and worked closely with all interests to develop policies supportive of both the environment and economic growth.
Johnson’s political career began when she ran for the Connecticut State Senate in 1976, becoming the first Republican elected to the New Britain seat in 30 years–a seat she held for three terms. Prior to seeking elective office, she was an active volunteer in her community of New Britain. A native of Chicago and a Radcliffe College graduate, Johnson and her husband, Ted, live in New Britain, Connecticut. They have three married daughters and 10 wonderful grandchildren. Johnson is a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University. In May 2007, Johnson will join the law firm of Baker Donelson in Washington, DC where she will focus on health care and tax and trade issues.