Health Care

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.

Medicaid at issue in 2019 races for governor
Republicans in Kentucky, Mississippi and Louisiana vow to scale back or block expansion

Louisiana Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards touts his expansion of Medicaid, while his GOP opponent, Eddie Rispone, would freeze enrollment. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

Races next month for governor in three states could affect the medical coverage of hundreds of thousands of people and offer test cases of how voters might view health care issues — particularly Medicaid for lower-income people.

In Mississippi, the Democratic candidate vows to expand Medicaid under the national health care law, while the Republican opposes that. Kentucky GOP Gov. Matt Bevin wants to scale back coverage that his Democratic opponent’s father, a former governor, expanded. And in Louisiana, incumbent Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards touts his expansion of Medicaid while his GOP rival would freeze enrollment.

Campus notebook: Digitizing Congress, a flu shot shortage and spotting an owl
Plus fall treats and process for reviewing franked mail is entering the 21st century

An owl peered into Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s office in the Hart Building on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There was good news this week for serious Congress nerds everywhere, especially those without access to a massive academic library.

The Government Publishing Office and the Law Library of Congress announced a plan Tuesday to digitize the entirety of the Congressional serial set — bound volumes of legislative reports and related documents dating all the way back to 1817.

Surgeon General: ‘Addiction can happen to anyone,’ even my brother

Surgeon General Jerome Adams sprays a dose of naloxone in the air at a Senate hearing Thursday. (Screenshot/Senate Finance Committee)

Surgeon General Jerome Adams spoke about his personal connection to the opioid epidemic in a Senate Finance Committee hearing Thursday.

‘Dadvocates’ join fight for paid family leave
Reddit Founder Alexis Ohanian among dads calling for paid time off

Rep. Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts Democrat, holds his daughter Emmy while Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat from Florida, talks with Reddit Founder Alexis Ohanian. (Clyde McGrady/CQ Roll Call)

They call themselves “Dadvocates,” men who say paid family leave is not just crucial for moms, but for dads who want to bond with their newborn and create more equity when it comes to child care expectations within the home.

Alexis Ohanian, venture capitalist, founder of Reddit and proud “business dad,” said it will be strange when he one day explains to his daughter that paid family leave was not always the law.