Medicaid

Soto Takes Heat for Telling Puerto Rican Evacuees to Say They’re Staying
Evacuees should say they’re staying in Florida to access Medicare or Medicaid, South Florida Democrat says

Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., made waves over the weekend for comments to Puerto Rico hurricane evacuees. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Florida Democrat caught heat over the weekend for telling a group of newly arrived hurricane evacuees from Puerto Rico to say they intend to stay in the state so that they can access health care benefits.

If the evacuees do not check that box on a federal form for Medicare and Medicaid, they will be ineligible to be recipients of those programs.

CBO: Cost of CHIP Renewal Smaller Than Projected
News should ease Congress’ task to pass legislation

The Congressional Budget Office now estimates the Senate CHIP bill would cost $0.8 billion over 10 years. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers will have to come up with only less than $1 billion to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program, according to a new Congressional Budget Office analysis released Friday. That estimate, far lower than previous projections, should ease lawmakers’ task of passing legislation this month.

In a four-page letter to Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, CBO Director Keith Hall said the Senate CHIP bill would cost $800 million over 10 years. Prior to this, the CHIP bill needed to be offset by about $8 billion over 10 years. The total cost of CHIP over 10 years would be $48.4 billion, but decreases in Medicaid and health care marketplace spending would offset much of that amount.

Opinion: 2018 Could Be Oddly Productive
Who says Congress can’t get things done during an election year?

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, shown here in 2013, are throwing their weight behind legislation to promote evidence-based policymaking. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As we enter 2018, the pundit class is already pushing the usual refrain that nothing important gets done in an election year. It is always safe to be cynical in uncertain times, and low expectations have an undeniable appeal. But history does not support the premise that legislative achievements occur only in odd years. Moreover, I challenge anyone to say that 2018 won’t be odd.

The theory of election year incapacitation harks back to a time when lawmaking had a strategic cadence. Members of Congress would focus on policy for 18 months and then shift their concern to re-election. Now, our democracy exists in a constant election cycle. New members of Congress hold fundraisers before taking the oath of office, and the tyranny of our digital society ensures that every vote, utterance and facial expression becomes campaign fodder. While this perpetual election has many grim implications, it also has served to diminish the distinction between “on” and “off” years.

Opinion: We’re Not in Kansas Anymore, or Are We?
State’s experiment with tax cuts offers a cautionary tale for Washington

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback predicted explosive economic growth from state tax cuts in 2012, but that eventually led to a budget crisis that forced the Legislature to raise income taxes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The 2017 tax bill enactment has left some of us who follow the federal budget wondering whether we are headed the way of Kansas.

In 2012, the state’s Republican governor, Sam Brownback, led his GOP-dominated Legislature to significantly reduce Kansas’ business taxes and set a path to cut income taxes to “zero.” Brownback hailed the tax cuts as a “real-live” experiment in conservative governance that would lead to an explosion of economic growth for the Sunflower State. The real results were anything but sunny.

HHS Political Appointees’ Résumés Show Ties to Price, Pence
Many also have links to conservative groups close to vice president

At least 16 staffers at the Heath and Human Services Department have ties to former Secretary Tom Price, a review of résumés shows. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services include at least 16 staffers with ties to former Secretary Tom Price and at least 12 with connections to Vice President Mike Pence or Indiana, a review of 129 résumés of appointed staffers in the department shows.

Pence’s influence over the agency can be seen in the appointment of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, who worked closely with the former Indiana governor to expand Medicaid in that state, and the appointment of Verma’s deputy Brian Neale, who currently oversees Medicaid and served as Pence’s health care policy director in Indiana. A number of staffers also have ties to conservative groups close to Pence, such as the Heritage Foundation and anti-abortion organizations.

Senate GOP Leans Away From Obamacare Repeal, Toward Stabilization
Repeal of the individual mandate creates new issues to solve, members say

Sen. Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas. (Bill Clark/Roll Call file photo)

Senate Republicans appear unlikely to attempt a complete overhaul of the 2010 health care law next year and instead have shifted their focus toward stabilizing the insurance markets.

Members say the repeal of the penalty for not having insurance that was included in the GOP tax plan removes a crucial aspect of the law, rendering it largely unworkable.

GOP Confident CR Will Pass, Coy on Vote Count
‘What if we have more than the votes we need? How about that’

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republican leaders continued Thursday to express confidence they’ll be able to pass a stopgap funding measure to keep the government open.

“We’re going to pass the CR,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise said.

Opinion: Thinking Small When the Big Picture Looks Cloudy
Americans are seeking comfort in the little things — and that could hurt Democrats

As the GOP takes a victory lap after their big tax bill win, voters are looking elsewhere, Curtis writes.(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Polls that show a view of Congress mighty low and sinking fast invariably find voters more satisfied with their own representatives. Thumbs-down verdicts for Washington and the “swamp” in general often turn rosier when dealing with particulars.

That fact, plus gerrymandered districts and restrictive voting laws, is reason enough for Democrats to be cautious when predicting a 2018 blue electoral wave. Americans are thinking small these days, preferring to stick with the familiar and close-to-home when confronted with issues that gobble up all the oxygen in the room and the brain.

History Shows You Can’t Bank on Tax Bill Projections
CBO figures are no crystal ball

President Ronald Reagan signs the 1986 Tax Reform Act. (AP file photo)

How Do You Put 2017 Into Words? Debbie Dingell’s ‘Dingell Jingle,’ Of Course
Trump’s tweets and the House floor schedule make the holiday tradition

Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., ends the jingle with a push for bipartisanship. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The traditional ‘Dingell Jingle’ has been released and it’s full of jabs against Republican leadership. The author, Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., told HOH that her husband, former Rep. John Dingell, contributed to this year’s poem.

The jingle opens with a line about Congress still being in town to vote this week. It quickly turns to President Donald Trump’s tweets, which Mr. Dingell very clearly dislikes.