House Ways and Means chairman to retire

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One of the most powerful lawmakers in Washington is retiring.

Rep. Bill Thomas (R-CA), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, announced his retirement this week. His committee has overseen a number of significant legislative actions affecting the long-term care industry, including the Medicare prescription drug benefit, therapy caps and various tax issues.

Regardless of his retirement, Thomas, a 28-year veteran, would be leaving his position at the head of the committee at this end of this Congress anyway because of term limits. Possible successors as Ways and Means chairman include Health Subcommittee Chair Nancy Johnson (R-CT), Rep. E. Clay Shaw (R-FL) and Rep. Jim McCrery (R-LA). There is no precise order of succession that must be followed so observers will be watching intently to see who emerges in the top spot.