health care

Medicaid Won’t Look the Same Next Year
From expansions to work mandates, states seek sweeping changes in 2018

Some states want to expand Medicaid, others want to add a work mandate, and Virginia is trying to do both. This year may define the 50-year-old program. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

This year could mark a significant shift for Medicaid programs across the country, as some states look to expand the government insurance program to more poor Americans while others seek to add more requirements for people who benefit.

Initiatives to get Medicaid expansion put on the November ballot are underway in Utah, Nebraska, Idaho and Montana. And Virginia lawmakers appear on the verge of securing an expansion deal, after years of rejecting the idea.

Drug Pricing Proposal Should Revamp Medicare, GOP Experts Say
Overhauling Part B drug benefit could have “massive impact overnight”

HHS Secretary Alex Azar has been outspoken in seeking to carry out the president’s push to reduce drug costs. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An upcoming Trump administration proposal on lowering drug costs should ask Congress to allow private insurance companies to negotiate prices for drugs administered in a doctor’s office or hospital, two Republican policy experts said.

The administration’s proposal is a request for comment on strategies to lower drug prices and out-of-pocket costs. It was originally expected to be released in tandem with a speech by President Donald Trump on Thursday, but the speech was delayed as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar recovers from an infection.

Health Groups Voice Concerns Over Short-Term Plan Proposal
Industry frets that premiums will rise, choice will go down

People shop for health insurance in Miami during the open enrollment period last November. Advocacy groups are concerned an expansion of short-term plans could push up premiums for plans sold on health exchanges. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

The health care industry is largely united in its opposition to the Trump administration’s proposal to expand how long people can be covered by short-term health plans.

Health care and advocacy groups raised concerns about allowing consumers to maintain a short-term insurance policy for just under 12 months rather than the current 90 days, providing an alternative type of coverage to that sold on the marketplaces set up under the 2010 health care law. Their comment letters to the administration predicted that the proposal would drive up premiums and decrease consumers’ choices for plans sold on the exchanges.

Committees Tackle Politically Powerful Issue of Opioids Legislation
Senate HELP panel advanced bipartisan package Tuesday

Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, chairs the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, which will consider over 60 bills to address the opioids crisis at a Wednesday markup. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House heads into a marathon opioid markup Wednesday, a day after the Senate health committee approved bipartisan legislation of its own addressing the crisis. Both chambers are eager to advance bills to combat the crisis under an aggressive timeline, with an eye toward demonstrating action before the midterms on an issue that affects voters representing most demographics and districts.

“Even though this epidemic is worse in some parts of the country than others, find me a congressional district where this isn’t an issue,” said Keith Humphreys, a drug policy expert at Stanford. “Absolutely, they do not want to go into an election and have their constituents mad at them.”

Conservative Court Nominee Highlights Smoother Path to Bench
Previous political work no longer impedes confirmation chances

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has presided over a steady stream of judicial confirmations under President Donald Trump, a marked shift from when Barack Obama was president. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 4:29 p.m. | Appeals court nominee Kyle Duncan has advocated on behalf of conservatives in legal fights over contentious cultural issues such as abortion and LGBT rights, leaving behind the kind of paper trail that might have dissuaded presidents from putting him through the Senate’s confirmation process.

Donald Trump is not such a president.

Spending Bill, Tariffs Drive Lobbying as 2018 Elections Approach
Future uncertainty also plays major role

K Street sign at 15th and K Streets in Washington, D.C. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An omnibus appropriations package, steel tariffs, regulatory work on the new tax law and general uncertainty about the nation’s direction on policy and governing fueled K Street business during the first three months of this year.

The politics of the coming November midterm elections will consume the Capitol for much of the rest of 2018, as lawmakers debate a farm bill, possible new disclosures for social media companies and federal spending beyond Sept. 30.  

McCain at Home Recovering From Another Surgery
No timetable for senator’s return to Washington

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., shown here in December, has been discharged from the hospital and is recovering from surgery at home in Arizona. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. John McCain has been discharged from the hospital and spent time at his ranch in Arizona on Monday night, according to a tweet from his wife, Cindy.

Last Sunday, McCain, 81, was admitted to Mayo Clinic in Phoenix and underwent surgery to treat an intestinal infection related to diverticulitis, his office announced in a press release last week. He emerged from the operation in stable condition.

Why the Hill’s Quitters Caucus Keeps Growing
Republicans, especially, are leaving Congress midterm to get a money-making head start

Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., is leaving the House to get a head start on his new career as a cable TV news analyst. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There are really just three ways to give up a seat in Congress on your own timetable: retire, resign or quit. And the method with the least attractive connotations has become particularly popular in the last decade, especially among Republicans.

Those who use the term “retirement” properly are lawmakers who decline to run for re-election but complete the term for which the voters chose them before returning to civilian life, whether as money-makers or golf club denizens. Departures are best labeled “resignations” when senators or House members are forced to up and leave by particularly good, or ruinously bad, professional circumstances — elevated to higher positions in public service, most often, or politically poisoned by moral exposures or criminal failings.

Here’s What Tonight’s Arizona 8th Special Election Means for 2018
Race to replace Rep. Trent Franks in the 8th District is Tuesday

Voters in Arizona’s 8th District will choose between Republican Debbie Lesko and Democrat Hiral Tipirneni on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The special election in Arizona’s 8th District will set the stage for a hotly contested Senate race and a handful of competitive House races in the Grand Canyon State. And both parties are watching for indications of what’s to come in November.

More than 150,000 people have already voted in the contest to replace Republican Rep. Trent Franks, who resigned in December amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Democrats are hopeful they can make the race close even though President Donald Trump carried the suburban Phoenix-based district by 21 points in 2016. And Republicans know analysts will be looking at the outcome for signs of a potential blue wave.

Opinion: Negotiating Advice From Capitol Hill to Emmanuel Macron
The last shall become the first. And assume nothing

President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron head for Marine One following a tree-planting ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House on Monday. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Bienvenue to Washington, Emmanuel Macron! You’ve got a lot on your plate, and we’re not talking about the jambalaya that’s on the menu for President Donald Trump’s first-ever state dinner that he’s throwing in your honor Tuesday night.

From convincing the president to stay in the Iran nuclear deal and Paris climate accords to making the case that new steel tariffs shouldn’t apply to the European Union and urging continued cooperation in Syria, there’s no shortage of items on your negotiating list.