Health Care

Study: Health Spending Rose 5.8% in 2015
Federal government now the biggest purchaser of medical services

The federal government rose past private households last year to become the nation’s biggest purchaser of health care, due in part to the expansion of the Medicaid program, according to a study released Friday. The findings comes as Republicans prepare plans to scale back the government’s role in securing health care for Americans.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released the latest figures from the National Health Expenditure survey, which since 1960 has provided annual snapshots of this spending. The total tab for health care in the United States rose by 5.8 percent last year to $3.2 trillion. The federal government’s share of this spending grew at a faster rate than did other major segments, jumping by 8.9 percent last year to $918.5 billion.

‘Cures’ Research Package Draws Strong Bipartisan Vote
Measure’s Senate prospects deemed positive

Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan and Diana DeGette of Colorado high-five Max Schill, 6, from Williamstown, N.J., after the House voted in favor of an earlier version of the 21st Century Cures Act in July 2015. Upton and DeGette spearheaded the bill. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Wednesday night approved, 392-26, a sweeping biomedical research package that also aims to overhaul the mental health system and make targeted changes to Medicare.

Representatives passed an earlier version of the legislation, known as 21st Century Cures, last year, only to see it get delayed in the Senate over disagreements on mandatory funding for the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, among other things.

How Tom Price Would Dismantle Obamacare
Trump’s pick for HHS has a plan for repeal and replace

Georgia Rep. Tom Price is considered one of the most vocal opponents of the 2010 health care law. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With President-elect Donald Trump slated to nominate Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Price as his secretary of Health and Human Services, the incoming president shows he is serious about following up on his campaign promise to repeal the 2010 health care law.

As chairman of the House Budget Committee, Price has been one of the most vociferous critics of the law.

House ’Cures’ Package Could Hit Potholes in Senate
Questions over funding, disclosure of gifts to doctors

Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley objects to a provision in the ‘Cures’ package and says he will object to an expected request for unanimous consent to take up the House bill in the Senate unless this provision is removed. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An expansive plan to spur the development of new medical treatments that’s on the fast track in the House could encounter resistance on the other side of the Capitol over disclosure requirements and the way the legislation is funded.

Lawmakers late last week released an updated version of a long-stalled package known as the 21st Century Cures Act. While many provisions remain from the version the House passed last year, additions include language designed to improve the nation’s mental health system and $1 billion over two years to help combat misuse of prescription opioids.

Reports: Trump Picks Tom Price for HHS Secretary
House Budget chairman a favorite of conservatives

Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., would have broad say in replacing the 2010 health care law if confirmed as HHS secretary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President-elect Donald Trump has selected House Budget Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga., as his nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services, according to multiple reports.

Price, 62, is a former orthopedic surgeon and favorite of conservatives who has been a fierce critic of the 2010 health care law. Republicans, including Trump, have made repeal of the law and passage of replacement legislation a top priority for next year. As HHS secretary, Price would likely have a large amount of influence over the creation of a new system.

Ep. 30: The GOP's Tool to Fast Track Trump’s Plans, Privatize Medicare
The Week Ahead

Republican lawmakers could use a decades-old procedural maneuver, known as reconciliation, to bypass Democratic opposition and accelerate Donald Trump’s legislative initiatives. That could include cutting taxes, repealing parts of President Barrack Obama’s health care law, privatizing Medicare or turning Medicaid into a block grant to the states. All they would need is a simple majority vote in the Senate. CQ Magazine deputy editor Shawn Zeller, CQ Roll Call’s Senate leadership reporter Bridget Bowman and Managing Editor Adriel Bettelheim explain how it could take shape.

Show Notes:

Ben Carson in Line to Lead Housing Department
Former GOP presidential hopeful was considered for multiple roles

A spokesman for Ben Carson has confirmed that he has been nominated by President-elect Donald Trump as his HUD secretary. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:50 p.m. | Former Republican presidential hopeful and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson is under consideration to be secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Trump administration, according to numerous media reports.

Armstrong Williams, a spokesman for Carson and a conservative media personality, on Wednesday disputed a Wall Street Journal story that said President-elect Donald Trump had offered to nominate Carson and that Carson had accepted. The Journal later corrected its story. 

Pence: Obamacare Repeal Comes First for Trump
Immigration, taxes, infrastructure to follow on envisioned agenda

Vice President-elect Mike Pence met with incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., in the Hart Senate Office Building on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Repeal of the 2010 health care law is a top priority as soon as Donald Trump takes office in January, Vice President-elect Mike Pence said in a Sunday television interview.

“Decisions have been made, that, by the president-elect, that he wants to focus out of the gate on repealing Obamacare and beginning the process of replacing Obamacare with the kind of free-market solutions that he campaigned on,” Pence said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Sessions Pick Could Blow Smoke at Marijuana Legalization Efforts
Trump’s AG nominee said in April, ‘Good people don't smoke marijuana‘

With some form of marijuana use legal in a majority of states, advocates warn that anti-legalization action from the incoming Trump administration could generate significant political problems. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

Jeff Sessions’ selection as attorney general, announced Friday, could be a setback to the burgeoning movement to legalize marijuana.

The Alabama Republican, who declared at an April Senate hearing that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” is one of Congress’s staunchest opponents of legalization.

Ep. 30: The GOP's Tool to Fast-Track Trump’s Plans, Privatize Medicare
The Week Ahead

Republican lawmakers could use a decades-old procedural maneuver, known as reconciliation, to bypass Democratic opposition and accelerate Donald Trump’s legislative initiatives. That could include cutting taxes, repealing parts of President Barack Obama’s health care law, privatizing Medicare or turning Medicaid into a block grant to the states. All they would need is a simple majority vote in the Senate. CQ Magazine deputy editor Shawn Zeller, CQ Roll Call’s Senate leadership reporter Bridget Bowman and Managing Editor Adriel Bettelheim explain how it could take shape.

Ep. 31: Why Trump’s Drive to Replace Obamacare Faces a Bumpy Ride
The Big Story

With control of the White House and Congress, Republicans can easily repeal big parts of President Obama’s health care law, but finding alternatives could prove to be a political minefield, say CQ Roll Call health reporter Erin Mershon and Managing Editor Adriel Bettelheim.

Show Notes:

Interest in Obamacare Coverage Surges With Arrival of Trump Era
Calls pour in from people nervous about losing their plans

HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell projected that as many as 13.8 million people would sign up or renew marketplace plans during this year’s open enrollment period. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Insurance agents are facing an uptick in calls from people nervous about losing their health care coverage under a Trump administration, industry officials said Monday.

“With the election, people are hearing about this repeal and they want to know: ‘Does this mean it’s all going away and we’re going to lose everything?’” said Scott Leavitt, an agent in Boise, Idaho. “People are uncertain about what’s going to happen because of the election. The point is we don’t know.”

Trump Lays Out Agenda of Obamacare Changes, Immigration, Tax Cuts
President-elect vows to deport up to 3 million illegal immigrants

A stunned crowd at the Nevada Democrats’ election night watch party react as Donald Trump delivers his victory speech on Wednesday morning. On Sunday, Trump laid out a conservative agenda on “60 Minutes.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President-elect Donald Trump says he is not intimidated by the job he will inherit in two months, vowing to immediately work with Congress on what amounts to a conservative push to undo parts of the 2010 health care law, slash taxes and deport millions of undocumented immigrants.

Also on the incoming chief executive’s to-do list is a legislative package to overhaul the country’s immigration system. But even before that, Trump told CBS’ “60 Minutes” he will waste no time in deporting as many as three million people who are in the country illegally and who have committed crimes.

Paul Ryan on Trump: ‘Our relationship is fine‘
Speaker plans to coordinate with president-elect on lame-duck, next Congress

Speaker Paul Ryan says the Republican Congress wants to work with president-elect Donald Trump to “hit the ground running” come January. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan is not worried about being able to work with President-elect Donald Trump, he told reporters Wednesday, touting plans to coordinate with the incoming administration to “hit the ground running” come January.

“I think our relationship is fine,” Ryan said when asked if his dealings with Trump and the conservative members of his conference are intact. 

Republicans Likely to Heed Trump's Call to Repeal Obamacare
Reconciliation could be used to strike parts of the law with 51 votes

The signature of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is seen after a signing ceremony last January for House legislation that would undo portions of the 2010 health care law.. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

 Congress is all but certain to seek to repeal parts of the health care overhaul, unwinding the signature achievement of the Obama administration and delivering on one of the Republican Party’s key campaign promises.

The health care law established state-based public health exchanges to encourage a competitive market for individuals who do not receive coverage through their job or another public program like Medicare. The fourth open enrollment period began last week for coverage that begins in January.