Trump Formally Endorses Death Penalty for Drug Pushers
'Americans will keep dying' under president's plan, one critic says

President Donald Trump answers questions from the media on March 13 before heading to California to view prototypes of his proposed Southern border wall. He said Monday the barrier would “keep the damn drugs out.” (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

A Southern border wall. Steel and aluminum tariffs for some of the United States’ closest allies. And now, the death penalty for drug traffickers.

President Donald Trump added the latter Monday to his growing list of hardline policy proposals. He delivered a message of getting “tough” in Manchester, New Hampshire, but he acknowledged the American people might not be ready to make some major drug offenses capital crimes.

Opinion: Putting the ‘N’ in SNAP Should Be a Farm Bill Priority
Program should be strengthened to promote nutrition among SNAP recipients

Among the recommendations of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s SNAP Task Force is continuing incentives for recipients to consume fresh fruits and vegetables (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As Congress begins its deliberations on this year’s farm bill, it’s time to pay more attention to the “N” in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

Launched as a pilot program by President John F. Kennedy and expanded nationwide by President Richard Nixon, the food stamps program — now SNAP — has enjoyed bipartisan support over its nearly 60-year history. From its initial goals of supporting farm incomes and ensuring low-income families did not face hunger, it has evolved into an effective anti-poverty program. That evolution continues today with a focus on nutrition.

The Never-Ending Crisis at the Indian Health Service
As the chronically under-funded agency struggles, American Indians are getting sicker and dying sooner

Patients wait at an Indian Health Service clinic on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. (Will Kincaid/AP)

The health disparities between American Indians and the rest of the United States population are stark. American Indians are 50 percent more likely than others to have a substance use disorder, 60 percent more likely to commit suicide, twice as likely to smoke, twice as likely to die during childbirth, three times more likely to die from diabetes and five times more likely to die from tuberculosis. They die on average five years sooner than other Americans.

The Trump administration has pledged to make tribal health care systems more effective. During one of his confirmation hearings, new Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told senators the administration would welcome opportunities to improve the $5 billion Indian Health Service, which provides care for 2.2 million American Indians. “It’s unacceptable for us to not be providing high-quality service,” Azar said.

Opinion: Doctors Are Drowning in Data Entry as Health IT Policy Lags
With the renaissance in health technology has come growing pains

The 21st Century Cures Act — championed by Reps. Fred Upton and Diana DeGette — was a step toward updating our nation’s health IT policy. Now HHS needs to follow through, write Marchibroda and White. (Al Drago/Roll Call file photo)

There is no doubt that information technology has revolutionized the way we treat patients in the United States.

Electronic health records are widespread, and people can schedule a doctor’s appointment on a smartphone app. But with this renaissance in technology has come growing pains, as our regulatory framework has struggled to keep pace with private sector advances.

Democrats Plan to Craft Tax Law Changes, Van Hollen Says
Don't expect a #fullrepeal effort

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said Democrats planned to craft a plan to change the tax law. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Democrats plan to craft a plan to rework last year’s overhaul of the tax code,  but don’t expect them to push full repeal.

That was the sense from the leader of the Democrats’ political operation, who focused on support within the caucus for rolling back provisions most beneficial to those in higher income brackets.

Medicaid Changes Require Tens of Millions in Upfront Costs
But Kentucky governor says move will eventually yield savings for state

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin projects that the state’s Medicaid program — which could cost nearly $187 million in the first six months with the addition of work requirements and other sweeping changes — will eventually yield savings. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The addition of work requirements and other sweeping changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid program could cost nearly $187 million in the first six months alone to get up and running. 

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin projects that the program will eventually yield savings but the changes require an upfront investment in administrative expenses. Much of that money is aimed at creating complex electronic systems and other changes needed to track work hours, monthly premium payments and other elements of Kentucky’s recently approved plan to revamp the government insurance program for low-income Americans.

Opinion: If Nothing Else, the Budget Act Is a Win for Chronic Care
Deficit hawks might not like the recent budget deal, but it brings hope to people living with disabilities and chronic illness

Disability rights advocates gather in the atrium of the Hart Building on July 25, 2017. This year’s bipartisan deal may have alarmed deficit hawks, but it contains provisions that give hope to people living with disabilities and chronic conditions, Hayes writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

While the recent passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 caused alarm for deficit hawks, one piece of it has given hope to those working to address the needs of people living with disabilities or chronic illness. By reshaping coverage and payment under Medicare, the CHRONIC Care Act could accomplish what decades of federal policy have not.

Now all we have to do is make sure the new law is implemented to create meaningful change.

When the Deal Precedes the Bid, Time to Change the Rules?
With bipartisan agreement that the budget system is broken, the Hill sets in motion a serious overhaul debate

Boxes containing President Donald Trump’’s fiscal 2019 budget are unpacked by staff in the House Budget Committee hearing room on Monday morning. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The latest unfeasible budget proposal is so two days ago. But a rewrite of the unsalvageable budget process may be unavoidable three seasons from now.

What the White House delivered to the Capitol on Monday were among the least consequential documents of the year. That’s because their fine-print aspirations of fiscal restraint were entirely theoretical. They had been rendered meaningless three days before by the newest law on the books, which makes real the promise of at least $300 billion extra in acceptable appropriations during the next several months.

‘Crisis Budgeting’ Likely Ahead Despite White House Claim
‘All sorts of riders’ could bring new shutdown threats, experts say

Copies of President Donald Trump’’s 2019 budget request are unpacked by House Budget Committee staff on Monday. Experts say it won’t end Washington’s decade of ‘crisis budgeting.’ (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

White House officials contend the two-year budget deal that became law last week will end Washington’s spending crises and government shutdown threats. But President Donald Trump’s new budget request suggests otherwise.

Trump himself was lukewarm about the spending package he signed last week, which raised defense and domestic spending caps for the remaining seven-and-a-half months of this fiscal year and the next. And the president had little to say about the fiscal 2019 budget blueprint his administration sent to Capitol Hill on Monday. But his top aides painted each one as game-changing documents.

Opinion: Acting on Opioids Is Easy. Recovery Is Hard
It’s time to save lives and take on the deadly opioid epidemic

Republicans and Democrats in Congress agree on the need to address the deadly opioid epidemic, Rep. Paul  D. Tonko, D-N.Y., writes. (John Moore/Getty Images file photo)

During his State of the Union Address last week, President Donald Trump repeated a promise that he has made many times: America is finally going to do something about its opioid epidemic. The issue could not be more pressing.

We are in the midst of a national public health crisis that cut short 64,000 lives in 2016 alone, a 21 percent increase in overdose deaths over the previous year. Given the devastating urgency of this issue, I want to believe that our president has not forgotten the tragedy of those lost and the pain of the loved ones they leave behind. But he has made similar promises in the past, nearly all of them abandoned and broken.