Health Care

Federal Watchdog Advises HHS to Recoup Price’s Travel Expenses
20 of 21 trips failed to comply with requirements, OIG finds

Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A federal watchdog is recommending the Department of Health and Human Services recoup $341,000 associated with former Secretary Tom Price’s travel expenses.

The HHS Office of the Inspector General released Thursday an audit that found 20 of 21 trips Price and other HHS officials took during his time in office did not comply with federal requirements. Price, a hardline fiscal conservative during his time in Congress, resigned last September after it was revealed that he regularly chartered private planes for routine business trips.

The President’s Mission to Mars Is a Real Long Shot
Trump really wants to go to Mars, but he’ll have to convince Congress, private companies and scores of scientists

President Donald Trump receives a flight jacket from NASA officials during a bill signing ceremony last year. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

For a man known for grandiose ambitions, perhaps President Donald Trump’s most lofty is his pledge, formalized in a December order, to land a human being on the surface of Mars.

It would be easy to doubt Trump’s seriousness, given that he’s equally known for inconsistent follow-through. But Trump has raised the idea repeatedly since that order, most recently last month before the National Space Council, the advisory group Trump revived last year and tasked Vice President Mike Pence with running.

Q&A: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
‘What we don’t know about the moon is critical’ and could change ‘the balance of power on Earth’

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is interviewed for the “CQ on Congress” podcast on June 28. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate confirmed Jim Bridenstine to lead NASA in April after months of delay related to Democrats’ concerns about his commitment to the agency’s climate research and Republican infighting over its resources.

During two terms in the House, and the start of a third, Bridenstine was a space enthusiast. He served on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and drafted an ambitious bill to overhaul the way the government manages its space resources.

Trump Taps Senate’s Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms for NASA Post
Morhard to be nominated to be deputy administrator of the space agency

Deputy Senate Sergeant at Arms James W. Morhard is interviewed by Roll Call in the Capitol, January 9, 2015. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The deputy sergeant-at-arms of the Senate has been picked by President Donald Trump to be the deputy administrator of NASA.

James W. Morhard, who has been deputy SAA since Republicans took over the Senate majority in 2015, has largely focused on the various administrative functions of the Senate.

$177.1 Billion Labor-HHS-Education Moves Forward With Family Separation Changes
House Appropriations has approved 11 of 12 fiscal 2019 spending measures

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., wants the Labor-HHS-Education bill linked to the Defense bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Appropriations Committee late Wednesday evening approved, 30-22, a $177.1 billion fiscal 2019 bill to fund the departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services.

The committee has now approved 11 of its 12 fiscal 2019 spending measures, following the marathon 13-hour markup of the massive nondefense bill that left lawmakers from both parties exasperated at various points. The debate covered family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border, gun research funding, abstinence-only sex education and thorny political issues around religious adoption agencies.

McConnell Gets Personal Discussing Polio
Majority leader makes argument for disease eradication programs

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell discussed his own history with battling polio, as well as the value of U.S. polio eradication efforts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s main fight for the next few months will be to get President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee out of the Senate. But the same morning that the effort to confirm Brett Kavanaugh truly kicked off, the Kentucky Republican took time to discuss a more personal battle: his childhood struggle with polio.

Speaking at a conference on polio eradication at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, McConnell affirmed United States financial support for the effort to vaccinate children and track the few remaining cases worldwide.

Kavanaugh’s Health Care Positions Hint at Future Abortion Views
Trump’s pick said 2010 health care law was a substantial burden on religious employers

Protesters gather outside the Supreme Court in June. President Donald Trump’s latest nominee to the court has the support of anti-abortion groups and could play a key role in attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The prior positions on health care cases by Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, hint at his potential future positions if confirmed to the court.

Kavanaugh, a conservative judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, has the support of anti-abortion groups and could play a key role in attempts to limit or overturn the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade case, as a number of abortion cases make their way through the lower courts. Roe v. Wade upheld the constitutional right to an abortion, with the court finding that a right to privacy extended to a woman’s right to an abortion.

Opinion: GOP Should Beware of Roe v. Wade Becoming the Fight
Republicans could lose the war for female voters for a generation

Abortion rights supporters demonstrate outside the Supreme Court in 2016. A return to the spotlight for Roe v. Wade during the confirmation debate could re-energize women who assumed the issue was decided long ago, Murphy writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Now that we know President Donald Trump has settled on Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his next choice for the Supreme Court, Senate Republicans are poised to deliver on a promise they have been making to conservatives for decades.

In Kavanaugh, the GOP has both its biggest opportunity to move the court to the right for a generation as well as its biggest danger — months of unscripted moments when abortion, reproductive rights and women will be at the center of a heated debate that Republicans have proved uniquely terrible at navigating over the years.

Warren Warns Nominee: ‘We Will Fight for the Soul of This Nation’
Protesters chant ‘Hell no, Kavanaugh’ late into the night outside Supreme Court

Anti-abortion protesters gather in front of the Supreme Court on Monday night as President Donald Trump announces his Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Chants of “Hell no, Kavanaugh” clashed with “Roe has got to go” outside the Supreme Court on Monday night, moments after President Donald Trump announced Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his pick.

As hundreds of protesters waving signs and megaphones gathered in front of the court, Sen. Elizabeth Warren struggled to be heard over the shouts.

Hospital Drug Discount Program Under Lawmakers’ Microscope
House panel to examine legislation Wednesday

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was to address a conference of hospitals participating in a drug discount program facing Congressional scrutiny. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A House panel that has been scrutinizing hospitals’ use of a drug discount program will examine on Wednesday pieces of legislation that stem from members’ concerns over the discounts.

The Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight panel has had two hearings in the past year on the program, known as 340B. The committee has requested information from hospitals that participate and in January published a report outlining ways the drug discount program could be better run.

Opinion: An Open Health Diplomacy Hand Works Better Than a Fist
Investing in global health programs like PEPFAR is a win-win for all

Patients visit the Coptic Hospital, which is partially funded by PEPFAR, in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2006. The United States should expand, not shrink, its strategic health diplomacy, Daschle and Frist write. (Brent Stirton/Getty Images file photo)

Recent headlines have been filled with stories and images of parents being separated from their children by the U.S. government. This is not what our country represents.

In fact, 15 years ago, we enacted the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, to do quite the opposite, and the program has gone on to save the lives of millions, keep families intact, and provide support for millions of orphans, vulnerable children and their caregivers. It represents the best of America, and we can be proud of the global legacy it has created.

Health Statistics See Funding Lag Amid Boosts Elsewhere
Advocates are concerned a critical national survey could soon disappear

A heroin user reads an alert on fentanyl in New York City in August 2017. The National Center for Health Statistics produces drug overdose death counts that it updates monthly, but stagnant funding for health statistics puts the future of such surveys in jeopardy. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images file photo)

Stagnant funding for federal health statistics is raising concerns among medical professionals, patient advocates and other groups that one of the national surveys used to assess the death rate from opioid abuse and average life expectancy may soon disappear.

Funding for the National Center for Health Statistics has fallen from $166 million five years ago to $160 million this year. And while the Senate is proposing a $1 million increase for health statistics for fiscal 2019, the House has proposed level funding and the Trump administration is calling for a $5 million cut.

VA Weighs Lifting Exclusion on Gender Reassignment Surgery
Administration already fighting multiple lawsuits against its transgender policies

People demonstrate outside the Capitol in July 2017 to protest President Donald Trump’s rst ban on transgender Americans serving in the military. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Department of Veterans Affairs is considering removing an exclusion on medical coverage for transgender services as the Trump administration battles multiple lawsuits against its transgender policies.

The VA released a request for comment Friday in response to a 2016 petition it received under former President Barack Obama to allow coverage of sex reassignment surgery. The petitioners, Dee Fulcher, Giuliano Silva and Transgender Veterans of America, eventually sued the Trump administration in 2017 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The case is ongoing.

Podcast: Over the Moon for the Mission to Mars
CQ on Congress, Episode 110

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine is interviewed for CQ on Congress podcast at the CQ Roll Call studio in Washington. (Photo by Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call)

Poll: Justice’s Stance on Immigration, Voting Rights More Important Than Abortion
Americans also concerned about police powers

U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington on Thursday, April 12, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Americans want a new Supreme Court justice who shares their views on immigration and voting rights — even more than someone who agrees with them on abortion, according to a new poll. 

Fifty-four and 53 percent of respondents to this week’s Economist/YouGov poll said it was very important that the next Supreme Court justice share their views on immigration and voting rights, versus 47 percent who said the same about abortion rights. And about 49 percent said it was very important to get a justice who agreed with them on police powers.