Health Care

First quarter drug lobbying outpaces other health care sectors
Big spending comes amid bipartisan support for legislation to lower drug prices

Health care trade groups and businesses increased their lobbying efforts during the first quarter of 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Several health care trade groups and businesses upped their lobbying expenditures in the opening stretch of 2019, with the pharmaceutical industry reporting the highest expenditures as lawmakers focus on rising drug prices.

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, which represents the pharmacy benefit managers that have emerged as a bogeyman in the drug pricing debate, more than doubled its lobbying expenditures in the first quarter of the year compared to the equivalent period in 2018. So far this year, the group has spent $1.49 million on lobbying, compared to last year’s first quarter sum of $741,557.

Trade, infrastructure, health care issues dominate K Street
Uncertainties in Washington haven’t dampened hopes for legislative deal-making

K Street spending in the first quarter of 2019 shows business interests are still looking for openings to help broker big-scope legislative deals before presidential politics takes hold by 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The renegotiated trade deal with Canada and Mexico, an elusive infrastructure package and debate over prescription drug prices dominated the lobbying agendas of some of the biggest spenders on K Street early this year, setting the legislative stage for the rest of 2019.

The tumult of the Trump administration and the uncertainty of divided party control on Capitol Hill have kept business interests on the defense while also looking for openings to help broker big-scope legislative deals before presidential politics takes hold by 2020.

Sarah Sanders lashes out at Democrats, April Ryan over calls for her firing
Embattled Trump spokeswoman calls Dems' reaction to Mueller report ‘sad,’ wants to ‘move on’

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday criticized author and journalist April Ryan, seen here at a book-launch event in September in New York, for calling for her ouster. The Mueller report detailed times in which Sanders lied to reporters, prompting Ryan's call. (Robin Marchant/Getty Images file photo)

Newly embattled White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday lashed out at congressional Democrats and reporter April Ryan as President Donald Trump and his team began their first week following release of Robert S. Mueller III’s report.

Democratic lawmakers wasted little time Thursday calling for her ouster following the special counsel’s report that detailed several instances in which Sanders misled reporters, especially about Trump’s decision-making before he fired then-FBI Director James Comey. Ryan, an American Urban Radio Networks reporter who provides analysis for CNN, followed that night by calling for the same during an appearance on the network’s “Outfront” program.

Rep. Seth Moulton becomes the 19th Democratic candidate for president
Marine Corps vet has championed veterans issues in Congress

Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., has endorsed 19 veterans to who are running for Congress for the first time in 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts congressman known for prioritizing veterans issues and for an unsuccessful push to unseat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, declared his bid for the White House on Monday.

In announcing his candidacy, Moulton becomes the 19th Democrat in the race.

Trump civil rights official wants to defend abortion opponents and religious freedom
OCR is now reporting a rise in civil rights complaints related to a person’s moral beliefs

Roger Severino, the director for the HHS’ Office of Civil Rights, speaks at a news conference on Jan. 18 announcing a new division on conscience and religious freedom. The new division will aide medical professionals who object to certain procedures on religious grounds. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images file photo)

A Trump administration official charged with protecting civil rights has major plans for defending abortion opponents and promoting religious freedom, he said in a rare and wide-ranging interview.

Roger Severino, the director for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights, highlighted his goals to investigate states that require insurance to cover abortion, protect individuals who reject certain vaccinations on religious grounds, and defend students training to be medical providers if they object to participating in abortions.

‘Renovation, what’s that all about?’ Trump asks about burning Notre Dame
Highlights of president’s most-eyebrow raising lines at economic roundtable in Minnesota

President Donald Trump greets supporters during a rally last month in Grand Rapids, Mich. On Monday, he was in another Upper Midwest state, Minnesota. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

ANALYSIS — President Donald Trump lingered on Air Force One in Minnesota on Monday, later telling workers at Nuss Truck and Equipment in Burnsville that he and others were watching coverage of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris engulfed in flames.

Trump said he had been briefed on the blaze, adding that it looked like “one of the great treasures of the world” was “burning to the ground. … That puts a damper on what we are about to say.”

Rep. Donald McEachin hospitalized after developing a blood clot
His hospitalization comes as he faces pressure from voters to endorse a “Medicare for All” bill

Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Va., suffered a blood clot last week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The next 100 days: the sky’s the limit
Our plan to give America’s middle class — and those working to get there — a boost

Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., addresses the media at the House Democrats' 2019 Issues Conference at the Lansdowne Resort and Spa in Leesburg, Va. on Thursday. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — One hundred days ago, I stood with my fellow House Democrats and swore the oath of office. We raised our right hands and promised to uphold the Constitution in the midst of a needless 35 day government shutdown.

Throughout that tumultuous six-week period and the months following, House Democrats remained intensely focused on delivering a better life for all Americans — urban, suburban and rural — through our For The People populist agenda.

‘Medicare for All’ keeps defining 2020 political landscape
Progressive health care plan could become point of contention as campaign heats up

From left, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., at an event Wednesday to introduce the “Medicare for All Act of 2019.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The “Medicare for All” bill that presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders released Wednesday is more likely to be litigated on the campaign trail than in the halls of Congress. And it highlights a rare political divide among Democrats on one of their marquee issues even as the party seeks to appear unified.

Supporters of the Vermont independent are vying with Democrats who prefer to expand and protect the 2010 health care law. Those differences have recently been overshadowed by larger fights between the two parties after the Trump administration broadened its position in a high-profile lawsuit by calling to strike down the entire 2010 law.

Bernie Sanders’ new Medicare for All bill would cover some long-term care

Renelsa Caudill, a nurse at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, is greeted by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., after speaking at an event to introduce the “Medicare for All Act of 2019,” in Dirksen Building on Wednesday, April 10, 2019. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., are also pictured. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday released an updated bill to implement a single-payer health insurance system, a politically divisive hallmark of his White House bid.

The unnumbered Senate bill would transition the U.S. health care system to a single-payer system over a four-year transition and eliminate nearly all premiums, co-pays and deductibles. The legislation largely mirrors Sanders’ 2017 proposal, but the new plan also would cover home and community-based long-term care services through an expanded Medicare program, according to a summary. The earlier version would have maintained those services through existing Medicaid benefits.

Democrats probe Trump decision to not defend Obamacare

Attorney General William Barr urged the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee to let the Obamacare case make its way through the courts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats opened a probe Tuesday into the Trump administration’s decision not to defend the 2010 health care law in a high-profile legal challenge, as Attorney General William Barr urged lawmakers to allow the case to move through the courts.

The chairmen of five House panels sent letters to the White House, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Justice Department seeking documents and communications about how the decision was made earlier this year to only partially defend the health care law in a legal challenge brought by Texas’ attorney general and other conservative state attorneys general.

Trump’s double backtrack ‘probably won’t matter very much’
Teflon president not likely to pay any political price for health care, border retreats

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., John Thune, R-S. Dak., Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., look on at the Capitol on Jan. 9. His recent moves have irked his own party. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — Donald Trump irked even his fellow Republicans last week with his health care and border closure pushes, only to back off both, capping one of the most turbulent weeks of his chaotic presidency. But it’s unlikely to hinder his re-election fight.

Eager to hit the campaign trail with a reprise of many of the same themes that fueled his 2016 bid, Trump caught his party off guard by trying once again to repeal and replace the entire Obama-era health care law, before delaying any vote until after Election Day 2020. At the same time, he threatened for days to shutter ports of entry at the U.S.-Mexico border, before replacing that threat with one to first slap tariffs on Mexican-made automobiles.

More Chinese fentanyl may stay out of the US under a new bipartisan bill
Another bipartisan proposal would help physicians learn more about a patient’s substance abuse history.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., arrives in the Capitol for the weekly Senate luncheons on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Calls to address the opioid crisis resumed Thursday as lawmakers released a bill that aims to curb the flow of illegal opioids into the United States and another to help physicians learn more about a patient’s substance abuse history.

The separate actions by a bipartisan group of senators and another of House members are drawing fresh attention to the overdose crisis, which is a concern for both parties even though Congress cleared an opioids law just last year. One of the bills, a Senate measure, stands a good chance of becoming law, said co-sponsor Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer.

As lawmakers fret, Trump takes closure threat to border with 2020 in mind
‘We felt the need to give him some advice,’ Kudlow says of economic warning to president

Supporters of President Donald Trump rally during his March 2018 visit to see border wall prototypes in San Diego. He returns to California on Friday as he mulls his threat to close the southern border's ports of entry amid an uptick in migrant apprehensions. (David McNew/Getty Images file photo)

The political and economic stakes will be high Friday when President Donald Trump heads to the U.S.-Mexico border after rankling members of both parties with a threat to close all ports of entry. But as lawmakers fret, he is keeping a major re-election issue on the minds of his supporters.

Trump flashed his unique approach to immigration and foreign policy last week when he floated the notion of closing the ports as a way to gain leverage over Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — by preventing migrants from those countries from trekking up the U.S. border, which he will see Friday in Southern California. He is also using the threat to get Mexico to stop migrants as they move through that country.

Capitol Ink | The Party of Health Care