Health Care

Chuck Schumer Seeks Senate Vote on Defending Obamacare
New push by Senate Democrats to respond to Texas judge’s ruling that law is unconstitutional

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Sunday that Democrats will make another push to get the Senate to defend the health care law in court. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Calling the ruling of a Texas federal judge, “awful, awful,” New York Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer wants a congressional intervention on behalf of Obamacare.

The Friday night ruling from Judge Reed O’Connor struck down the individual mandate of the 2010 health care overhaul as unconstitutional, and he went a step further in saying that it couldn’t be severed from the rest of the law, meaning it would fall as well. But as a practical matter, the law appears to be remaining in place pending appeals.

Ruling on Health Care Law Leaves Consumers Confused
Law remains in place for now

A pro-health care law demonstrator marches outside of the Supreme Court on the first day of opening arguments that will determine the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s health care law in 2012. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The most immediate impact of a ruling striking down the 2010 health care law could be confusion and depressed sign-ups in the law’s insurance marketplaces on the final day of open enrollment.

The law remains in place for now — but some consumers may not understand that.

Texas Judge Strikes Down 2010 Health Care Law
Law is unconstitutional without “individual mandate” penalty, judge rules

Supporters of the 2010 health care law rally outside the Supreme Court in June 2015 as they await a court decision related to the law. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A federal judge late Friday struck down the 2010 health care law, siding with a group of conservative states that argued the law is unconstitutional after Republicans in Congress eliminated a key part of it.

Judge Reed O’Connor, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, sided with Texas and the other states, saying the law cannot stand without the so-called individual mandate to get coverage, which Republicans effectively ended as part of a 2017 tax overhaul . Texas and its partner states argued that the requirement was not severable from the rest of the law and sought an injunction beginning in 2019.

Word on the Hill: What’s Buzzing on Capitol Hill?
Marking Sandy Hook anniversary, staffer shuffle, and a passing of the coffeemaker

Rick Hohensee greets members after the last votes of the week in the House on Thursday announcing he wants to challenge Nancy Pelosi as speaker in the next Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Are the Suburbs Getting More Progressive on Guns? Moms Demand Action Bets Yes
Gun control group found winning candidates within its own ranks

Rep.-elect Lucy McBath, D-Ga., was previously a national spokeswoman for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Amid a debate within the Democratic Party about whether progressive ideas can sway voters in suburbia, candidates affiliated with an advocacy group that campaigns against gun violence sought — and won — elected office even in historically conservative suburban districts.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America appealed to suburban women on overhauling gun laws amid a rash of mass shootings in recent years, including the one in Parkland, Florida, in February. 

Word on the Hill: What’s Buzzing on Capitol Hill?
Meeks on Pence ‘laying low,’ the millennial caucus, and Reichert says leave investigations to the pros

Democratic Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin gets a hug from Washington Democrat Dan Kildee at a House Financial Services Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade hearing on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

We’re all over Capitol Hill and its surrounding haunts looking for good stories. Some of the best are ones we come across while reporting the big stories.

There is life beyond legislating, and this is the place for it. We look, but we don’t find everything. We want to know what you see too.

Tennessee Rep.-Elect Walks Back ‘Anti-Vaxx’ Comments
But Mark Green says ‘More research should be done’ after alleging a CDC coverup

Rep.-elect Mark Green, R-Tenn., said his comments endorsing a conspiracy theory that vaccines cause autism were “misconstrued.” (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep.-elect Mark Green, R-Tenn., has softened his endorsement of the myth that vaccines cause autism in statements to the media, claiming his comments had been distorted.

“Recent comments I made at a town hall regarding vaccines has been misconstrued. I want to reiterate my wife and I vaccinated our children, and we believe, and advise others they should have their children vaccinated,” the 7th District Republican said.

Budget Scuffle Stalls ‘Blue Water’ Benefits for Vietnam Vets
Science, costs concern for GOP holdouts; Dems yell hypocrisy

Senate Veterans Affairs Chairman Johnny Isakson remains bullish the Senate can pass the measure to make more Vietnam era veterans eligible for treatment for exposure to Agent Orange. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators and veterans groups are working to convince a few last holdouts to stop blocking a quick floor vote on a bill to extend benefits for Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange.

Advocates are lobbying President Donald Trump to sign the bill if the Senate clears it. But Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah has questions about whether science backs up the policy. And Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming is concerned about its nearly $2.2 billion cost over a decade.

Supreme Court Will Not Hear Planned Parenthood Defunding Appeal
Two conservative justices — Roberts and Kavanaugh — side with liberal colleagues

Supporters and opponents of abortion rights demonstrate outside the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal by two states that want to cut Medicaid funds from providers like Planned Parenthood, keeping in place lower court opinions that anti-abortion advocates oppose.

The states, Kansas and Louisiana, argued that Medicaid does not allow individual patients to sue if state officials refuse to cover a provider’s non-abortion services because the provider sometimes separately performs abortions.

Word on the Hill: What’s Buzzing on Capitol Hill
Rokita sends off successor, Loebsack is lonely no more, and Pearce gets a new post

Sgt. Maj. Julian Ayers, drum major for the U.S. Army Band, leads a rehearsal on the East Front of the Capitol before the arrival former President George H.W. Bush’s casket last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

We’re all over Capitol Hill and its surrounding haunts looking for good stories. Some of the best are ones we come across while reporting the big stories.

There is life beyond legislating, and this is the place for it. We look, but we don’t find everything. We want to know what you see too.

Care With a Side of Comfort Promises Big Savings in Health Costs
Experiments targeting housing, transportation, food and other nonmedical services are flourishing

Circle the City’s respite program provides health assessments, physical therapy and other care for homeless patients. (Courtesy Circle the City)

As state and federal officials increasingly search for ways to curb rising health care costs, a decades-old idea is gaining traction: helping people with challenges that have nothing to do with medical care but everything to do with their health.

Insurers are taking steps as simple as paying for hot meal deliveries and outreach to homebound people and replacing air filters in homes with asthmatic children. More radical approaches include building affordable housing for people who don’t have a stable home of their own.

Choosing a Health Plan Should Not Be Like Playing ‘Battleship’
CMS should issue guidance to expand benefits and inform older Americans

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services should revise its guidance for 2020 to allow broader coverage of nonmedical services for seniors with multiple chronic conditions, Hayes writes. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

OPINION — Three in four Americans over 65 live with multiple chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and asthma, and the cost of providing their care is rapidly increasing.

Beginning in January, Medicare Advantage, or MA, Medicare’s managed care plans, will offer some relief by providing health-related supplemental benefits to beneficiaries with chronic conditions. Some plans will offer new benefits such as smoking cessation programs, in-home personal assistance, caregiver support and adult daycare. But that’s not enough.

Insurance Marketplace Sign-Ups Lag After Year of Changes
Fewer people are enrolling than last year, according to CMS

Overall health insurance enrollment on the federal exchange is down roughly 11 percent compared to this point last year. Above, Isabel Diaz Tinoco and Jose Luis Tinoco weigh different plans at the Mall of the Americas in Miami last year. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

Enrollment in the insurance plans offered under the 2010 health care law appears to be lagging heading into the final stretch of the sign-up period.

Overall enrollment is down roughly 11 percent compared to this point last year, suggesting the final federal exchange numbers may end up lower than last year.

Ayanna Pressley’s ‘Squad’ Attends Tearful City Council Farewell
Members-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib observed from the gallery

Boston City Council members were effusive in their goodbye remarks to colleague and Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., bid a touching goodbye to her colleagues on the Boston City Council Wednesday, her fellow members-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., observed from the gallery — a show of kinship between the women of color at the forefront of the Democratic Party’s newly emboldened left flank.

Council members were effusive in their praise of Pressley, who was the first woman of color to be elected to the council in 2009 and has in the years since championed diversifying its makeup. 

Pro-Choice Caucus Preps for Democratic Majority
Members hope to push back on abortion

Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., leads the Pro-Choice Caucus with Barbara Lee, D-Calif. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An influential House caucus hopes to use the Democrats’ majority next year to counteract Republican efforts to restrict abortion and family planning, although the group still faces an uphill battle against a Republican Senate and administration with strong ties to the anti-abortion lobby.

The Pro-Choice Caucus has been recently overshadowed by its conservative rival, the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, which counts Republican leadership and lawmakers from the influential Freedom Caucus among its members.