Health Care

Women’s health political fights heat up in battleground states
Opponents and supporters of abortion rights gear up for record-setting advocacy campaigns

Control of state governments, Congress and the White House could depend on the ability of proponents and opponents of abortion rights to turn out core supporters. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Fights over abortion and birth control in all three branches of government are fueling record-setting advocacy campaigns by liberal and conservative groups ahead of the 2020 elections.

Control of state governments, Congress and the White House could depend on special interests turning out core supporters and elevating issues such as the Supreme Court’s consideration this term of a potentially landmark abortion case.

Democrats prepare to duel McConnell over year-end wish list
Amid push for legislation benefiting Kentucky constituents, Dems seek their own concessions

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing several initiatives to benefit his constituents, including renewal of tax breaks for bourbon distillers, aid for retired coal miners and appropriations to bolster Kentucky’s hemp industry. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As former Sen. Wendell Ford often said, with small variations: “Kentucky is beautiful women, fast horses, bourbon whiskey, cigarettes and coal. I represent Kentucky, and that’s what I represent.”

The colorful Ford, a Democrat who died in 2015, had little else in common with Mitch McConnell, the stoic Kentucky Republican who served as the junior senator from the Bluegrass State alongside Ford for 15 years until the latter’s 1999 retirement. But the Senate majority leader is clearly taking a few pages from Ford’s playbook in the year-end legislative scramble as he heads into a potentially difficult reelection campaign in 2020.

Elizabeth Warren has a plan: Here's what it would cost
Massive income redistribution from wealthiest and corporations at heart of Democrat’s plan

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., at a news conference in the Capitol in March. Warren is betting that a massive redistribution of wealth would win her the Democratic nomination and the presidency. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two years ago, the House rejected a budget blueprint drafted by the Congressional Progressive Caucus that envisioned raising taxes by $9 trillion over a decade, plowing $5 trillion of that into new spending and leaving the rest for deficit reduction. Considered radical at the time, the plan was defeated 108-314, with 79 Democrats opposing it.

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is running for president on a platform that makes House progressives’ 2017 budget look milquetoast. Still, by some metrics Warren’s got a plausible shot at the Oval Office: She’s polling well in Iowa and New Hampshire, and handily beats President Donald Trump in head-to-head nationwide polls.

FDA nominee to face questions on issues from vaping to salmon
It might be hard for Stephen Hahn to win over Democrats because of a pending White House vaping decision

Stephen Hahn, President Donald Trump’s choice to head the Food and Drug Administration, faces a confirmation hearing on Wednesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. (Courtesy The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center)

When President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration appears for the first time before a Senate panel on Wednesday, he’ll likely face tough questions about some policy issues that he may not have thought much about previously.

While the nominee, Stephen Hahn, is a highly regarded cancer doctor who has helped lead a research hospital with a budget nearly the size of the FDA’s, the confirmation hearing will be a reminder of the breadth of the agency’s work.

Impeachment frenzy? Not so much in the other Washington
Even among Democrats, impeachment trails health care, climate change

“You don’t see the inside-the-Beltway frenzy because we’re not inside the Beltway,” Herrera Beutler said of her constituents' attitude toward impeachment of the president. (Jacob Fischler/CQ Roll Call)

VANCOUVER, Wash. — At three official events throughout her southwest Washington district last week, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler’s constituents bemoaned the lack of national unity seen during World War II, related troubling stories of new mothers struggling with insufficient health care and watched their children sing at a Veterans Day commemoration.

They did not ask the five-term Republican, a target of House Democrats’ campaign arm, about the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

Republicans have a plan for patient-centered health care
RSC proposal aims to make good on president’s vision of the GOP as the party of health care

The Republican Study Committee’s “Framework for Personalized, Affordable Care” offers the American people thoughtful solutions for patient-centered health care, Marshall and Johnson write. (Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — “The Republican Party will soon be known as the party of health care. You watch.” — President Donald J. Trump, March 26, 2019

There’s one thing everyone in D.C. can agree on: Our current health care system is not working, and it’s high time we modernize it. But with health care such a deeply personal issue, it’s no simple task. That’s why we, the Republican Party, want you and your doctor to be in charge, not the federal government. This stands in stark contrast to the Democrats’ plan, which calls for the federal government to completely take over your health care.

Surprise billing fight highlights hurdles for bolder health care changes
Disagreements over payments foreshadow difficulty of moving overhaul like ‘Medicare for All’

National Nurses United union members wave "Medicare for All" signs during a rally in front of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America in Washington on April 29. A September poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 30 percent of people consider implementing a national Medicare for All plan a top priority. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The challenge of passing legislation to stop surprise medical bills is underscoring just how hard it is in Washington to change the health care system, even in small ways, and raising questions about Democrats’ far more ambitious overhaul plans. 

Stopping surprise medical bills wasn’t supposed to be this difficult. Lawmakers in both parties want to protect patients from certain unanticipated out-of-pocket costs, and industry groups say they agree with the broad goal. But fights over payments to doctors and other medical providers that so far have stalled the legislation foreshadow the hurdles of moving a major overhaul, such as a “Medicare for All” government-run health care plan, after the 2020 elections.

House to take up CR, Export-Import Bank and voting rights legislation in November
Hoyer outlines floor schedule for November, says action on prescription drug bill delayed to December

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Friday he’s hopeful “that we can finish our work and fully fund the government before the end of the year.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House will take up a stopgap funding bill, legislation to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, and a voting rights measure in November, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in a “Dear Colleague” letter Friday.

The House has been on recess this week and will return Tuesday after the Veterans Day holiday for two consecutive weeks of legislative sessions before recessing again for the week of Thanksgiving. 

As states with legal weed embrace vaping bans, black-market risks linger
Health officials are still puzzling over why some who vape come down with a severe respiratory illness

THC vape cartridges are a popular product in Washington's legal marijuana shops. A new ban on flavored versions of marijuana and nicotine vaping products recently went into effect across the state and will remain in place at least four months. (Photo by Will Stone)

By Will Stone, Kaiser Health News

Cannabis shops around Washington state are now required to hang signs warning customers of “severe lung injuries” and “deaths” associated with vaping.

Senate Democrats skeptical of Warren’s ‘Medicare for All’ push
Hesitation from rank-and-file Democrats shows how fraught the issue is within the party

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said she was confident Medicare for All could earn support in Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s colleagues aren’t exactly jumping to voice support for her plan to finance “Medicare for All.”

The hesitation from rank-and-file Democrats across the political spectrum on backing the Massachusetts Democrat’s plan shows how fraught the issue is within the party – and how challenging it would be for a Democratic White House to shepherd a plan through Congress.

Open enrollment season for Medicare can be confusing but worth the effort
New and returning enrollees should consider benefits of Medicare Advantage

New and returning Medicare enrollees should take the time to learn about the choice between Traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage and make the right one for themselves, Schwartz writes. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — It’s that time of year again when the annual Medicare open enrollment period has begun. More than 60 million Americans will make important, personal decisions about their health coverage for the year ahead.

While this is serious business for countless beneficiaries, open enrollment’s recurrence is hardly noticed by most Americans and easy to take as routine. It is hardly that. The decisions made now can have a meaningful impact on Medicare beneficiaries’ health, financial security and well-being. In addition, there are some significant, positive changes happening in Medicare that all beneficiaries should know about and consider when making the choice of how to receive their benefits.

Teens like vaping mint and mango Juul flavors over menthol and tobacco, study finds
The study comes amid speculation that the Trump administration may not include menthol in the flavored e-cigarette ban

A new National Institutes of Health-funded study found teens prefer mint and mango-flavored e-cigarettes over tobacco and menthol flavors. The study also found that of the teens who use vapes, two-thirds use Juul products. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A new National Institutes of Health-funded study published Tuesday said that menthol flavoring is one of the least popular e-cigarette flavors among teenagers, amid speculation that the Trump administration may not include menthol in the flavored e-cigarette ban it proposed in September.

That proposal cleared the White House Office of Management and Budget on Monday afternoon, which is the last step before public release.

Warren ‘Medicare for All’ plan has $20.5 trillion price tag
The plan would dramatically reshape the health care system and the nation’s tax structure

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks in Iowa on August 9, 2019. On Friday she unveiled her ‘Medicare for All’ plan, after facing criticism that she hadn’t explained how to pay for the health care plan. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Presidential contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., unveiled a $20.5 trillion plan Friday to finance a government-run “Medicare for All” system, after facing criticism that she hadn’t explained how to pay for the pricey health care plan.

Warren’s plan would dramatically reshape the health care system and the nation’s tax structure. It would draw trillions of dollars from employers and raise taxes on the financial sector, large corporations and the richest 1 percent of Americans. She says she also would pay for the shift to a single-payer program that would cost less than some projections of the existing system by reducing health costs, cutting defense spending and assuming an immigration overhaul saves $400 billion.

Trump to nominate Texas cancer hospital leader to head FDA
Stephen Hahn is currently the chief medical executive at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston

The Food and Drug Administration headquarters in White Oak, Md. President Donald Trump Friday nominated Stephen Hahn, a doctor and cancer treatment hospital executive to lead the agency. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump on Friday announced he intends to nominate Stephen Hahn, a doctor and executive at one of the country’s leading cancer treatment hospitals, to be the next Food and Drug Administration commissioner.

Hahn is currently the chief medical executive at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He is trained as a radiation oncologist, a field that uses radiation to kill cancer cells and tumors or slow their growth.

Senate Republicans kill Democratic move on Trump health policy
Democrats decried letting states approve so-called ‘junk plans’

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., sees the vote on the health insurance guidance as a referendum on support for people with pre-existing conditions. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate rejected a Democratic resolution to nullify a Trump administration health care policy that supporters billed as a referendum on support for pre-existing condition protections.

The 43-52 vote on Wednesday blocked a disapproval resolution that would have reversed a 2018 guidance expanding changes states could make to their insurance markets through waivers. Democrats forced the vote via the Congressional Review Act even though no states have sought to make the types of changes the administration is encouraging.