Human Services

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.

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 renews misleading claim about Obama and child separation policy
POTUS claims he’s not restarting the controversial program — but describes it as effective

A group of Honduran migrants, including children, who said they were part of a ‘migrant caravan’, are briefly detained along the U.S.-Mexico border barrier by Mexican police on Dec. 1. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday claimed it was the Obama administration that began the practice of separating migrant children from adults at the U.S.-Mexico border, a contention nonpartisan fact-checkers call “misleading.”

“Just so you understand, President Obama separated the children. Those cages that were shown — I think they were very inappropriate — were by President Obama’s administration, not by Trump. President Obama had child separation.

Challenging food stamps rule, Rep. Marcia Fudge points to Hill workers
“Even this government doesn’t pay them enough to make a living”

Rep. Marcia L. Fudge cited Hill workers in challenging a USDA rule to restrict food stamp benefits for some working poor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcia L. Fudge on Wednesday challenged the Agriculture Department’s premise for a rule that would restrict food stamp benefits for some working poor, using as an example employees who clean Capitol Hill office buildings or serve lawmakers food in the cafeterias.

“Even this government doesn’t pay them enough to make a living,” said Fudge, who chairs the Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight and Department Operations, at a hearing on a proposed USDA rule that would restrict states’ ability to issue waivers for some able-bodied adults without dependents from food stamp time limits and work requirements.

Opioid maker Mallinckrodt to support lobbying disclosure

Mallinckrodt is backing an investor group's push to disclose its lobbying. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Mallinckrodt Plc, a major manufacturer of generic opioids, is backing an investor’s request it disclose its lobbying spending and plans to issue a report, according to a shareholder coalition pressing drug companies to improve oversight in light of the opioid epidemic and confirmed by the company’s proxy statement released Wednesday. 

The Staines-upon-Thames, England-based company told members of Investors for Opioid Accountability, who together manage $3.4 trillion in assets, it would recommend stockholders vote in favor of the group’s lobbying disclosure proposal, said co-leader Donna Meyer and Katie McCloskey, director of social responsibility for IOA member United Church Funds, lead filer of the request.

Democrats ramp up investigations with subpoenas for Barr, Ross
House Oversight Committee to authorize subpoenas for citizenship question on 2020 census, possible abuse of security clearance policy

Chairman Elijah Cummings, right, speaks as ranking member Jim Jordan listens on Tuesday during the House Oversight and Reform Committee markup of a resolution authorizing issuance of subpoenas to White House officials over security clearances and the 2020 census. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform authorized a series of subpoenas Tuesday targeting Attorney General William Barr, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and two other officials with knowledge of the administration’s proposed U.S. Census citizenship question and alleged abuse of the White House’s security clearance policy.

The committee's subpoena resolution related to the citizenship question also demands Justice Department documents and DOJ’s communications with Ross in 2017 and 2018, when Ross proposed that the citizenship question be added to the 2020 census.

Legal challenges are threatening Trump administration changes to the ACA
HHS is facing an increasing number of challenges to its changes to the 2010 health care law

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar testifies during a House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing on June 6, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)!

The Trump administration, which has already been defeated in a number of high-profile legal cases, is facing an increasing number of challenges to its changes to the 2010 health care law and women’s health issues.

Just last week, the Justice Department filed a brief arguing that the entire health care law should fall, a position that even some conservative legal scholars call risky. Two days later, on Wednesday, a federal judge struck down the administration’s rules requiring Medicaid recipients to report their work hours to keep their coverage. On Thursday, another judge blocked the administration’s expansion of association health plans, which let small businesses band together to buy insurance and do not have to meet all of the 2010 law’s requirements.

How is Congress handling opioids? We followed the money
To provide one-time funding is to treat addiction as if it were an acute condition, instead of a chronic one

During a candlelight vigil at the Ellipse in 2017, Tina Rhatigan, right, comforts her sister Terri Zaccone, whose son died of a fentanyl overdose. What began in the 1990s with prescription opioids has evolved into an epidemic driven by heroin and now fentanyl. Federal funds must be flexible enough to keep up, Parekh and LaBelle write. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Nearly 50,000 people died from an opioid overdose in 2017. Today, Americans are more likely to die from opioid overdoses than car accidents. While the United States is beginning to see a few positive signs that overdose deaths are leveling off, this doesn’t mean we’re even close to ending the epidemic.

Untreated opioid use disorder has numerous consequences, including neonatal abstinence syndrome, the spread of infectious diseases and family separations. These consequences will be with us for years to come. So too should federal investments to address the epidemic, and they should be transparent to policymakers and the public.

‘I’m proud of you’: Some freshman Democrats geek out over meeting Obama
The former party leader described new class as ‘stocked with a bunch of my campaign and administration alums’

Rep. Deb Haaland, D-New Mexico, takes a selfie with President Barack Obama on Monday, March 29, 2019. (Courtesy Twitter)

Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib said in a tweet Thursday that President Barack Obama told the freshman Democrat he was proud of her.

“[W]e had a thoughtful discussion about serving our country,” she tweeted. “The best part was when he looked straight at me and said, ‘I’m proud of you.’”