health-care

Supreme Court allows Trump's ‘public charge’ rule to proceed
The 5-4 ruling would deny green cards to immigrants who use federal aid programs

The "public charge" rule was originally issued last August by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under Ken Cuccinelli, the agency's acting director. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Trump administration can implement its divisive “public charge” rule, which seeks to withhold citizenship from immigrants the government deems likely to rely on public benefits like Medicaid and Section 8 housing. 

In the 5-4 vote, conservative-leaning justices voted to grant the administration its request to stay a lower court injunction on the rule while the merits of the case continue to be debated in the lower courts. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen G. Breyer voted against the stay. 

US ready for potential coronavirus outbreak, CDC assures lawmakers
CDC officials said they currently have the resources needed to address the spread of the virus

Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., departs from a news conference on Tuesday. He told reporters Friday that federal health officials had positive things to say about China’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Federal health officials told lawmakers Friday that they have the resources they need to address the spread of the virus originating from Wuhan, China, although senators acknowledged the potential need for supplemental funding down the road.

The briefing for roughly two dozen senators came as the case count for the new version of coronavirus in China was rapidly increasing, prompting authorities there to effectively quarantine tens of millions of people in Wuhan and surrounding cities. China’s National Health Commission reported 571 cases and 17 deaths as of Thursday, though news reports on Friday said there were now more than 800 cases and at least 26 deaths.

Report: Speed up drug development with artificial intelligence
But it says new legal, ethical, economic and social questions must be addressed

Senate HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander is among a group of lawmakers who requested the artificial intelligence report by the National Academy of Medicine and the Government Accountability Office. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

More and improved use of artificial intelligence, and an overhaul of medical education to include advances in machine learning, could cut down significantly the time it takes to develop and bring new drugs to market, according to a new joint report by the National Academy of Medicine and the Government Accountability Office.

Before that can happen, however, the United States must address legal and policy impediments that inhibit the collection and sharing of high-quality medical data among researchers, the report said.

Abortion policy activism heats up for Roe v. Wade anniversary
Groups gear up for ‘pivotal year’ with emphasis on states

Both sides of the abortion rights debate are doubling down on grassroots efforts to energize voters who share their beliefs about abortion. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Groups pushing for the advancement of abortion rights and those looking to limit the procedure have an ambitious agenda starting this week, foreshadowing a year that could be critical for advocates on both sides of the debate.

In two months, the Supreme Court will hear its first major abortion case since 2016, and both sides are revving up for a major presidential election. States are also eyeing a number of new reproductive health bills as their legislatures come back into session.

Supreme Court denies request for expedited appeal of challenge to 2010 health care law
House and several blue states had requested appeal that could have led to decision ahead of election

An expedited hearing on the 2010 health care law could have led to a ruling before the election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will not hear an expedited appeal of a legal challenge to the 2010 health care law this term, which could have led to a decision this summer on whether to overturn the entire law during the heat of the campaign season.

At least five justices declined a request from several Democratic state officials and the House to fast-track an appeal of the case, Texas v. Azar. Instead, a lower court judge will reconsider how much of the 2010 health care law should fall after Congress eliminated the law's tax penalty on most Americans who did not have health care coverage. The Supreme Court could agree to hear the case as soon as its next term, which begins in October, but a decision is not likely before the November elections.

To rein in Big Pharma over high drug prices, start with patent reform
Bipartisan proposals represent a rare bright spot in a divided Congress

Abuse of the patent system by brand-name drug manufacturers is exacerbating the financial burden faced by American patients for their prescription drugs, Lane writes. (George Frey/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — With the Senate impeachment trial kicking off and partisan tensions running high on several fronts, Americans might be forgiven for thinking that Congress has lost the ability to find common ground. But lately, and despite the proverbial odds, there is a new bipartisan consensus forming on an issue of incredible importance to millions of Americans: prescription drug pricing. Specifically, reforming the U.S. patent system to end abusive practices that are directly contributing to high drug prices.

Across the country, Americans are struggling under the weight of skyrocketing prescription drug costs. It is no secret that affording medicines and treatments is an incredible burden for too many families. On average, Americans are paying considerably more than citizens of other high-income countries for the same exact prescription drugs.

Appropriators feel the squeeze of budget caps as veterans health funding grows
Nondefense programs could soon see spending cuts unless Congress makes adjustments

“It’s going to be a challenge,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Appropriators and stakeholders have begun coming to grips with the reality of narrow funding increases under next year’s budget caps, as politically sacrosanct veterans health care spending continues to grow and eat into what’s left for all other nondefense programs.

Last summer’s two-year budget deal front-loaded its spending cap increases into the first year, allowing about 4 percent more for discretionary spending in fiscal 2020. In fiscal 2021, increases are capped at less than 0.4 percent, or $5 billion, despite fixed costs for veterans health care that are likely to require substantially more.

Repeal of Obamacare taxes stirs questions on durability of offsets
Democrats once touted law’s fiscal soundness. That’s getting harder to do

The repeal of three taxes levied under the 2010 health care law underscores how much easier it is for lawmakers to give the public a new benefit than it is to impose ways to pay for it. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The repeal last month of three taxes levied under the 2010 health care law represents one of several ways Congress has chipped away over the years at provisions paying for it, but a left-leaning budget think tank calculates the law will still save money overall.

Democratic leaders have often highlighted the law’s offsets as an example of fiscal responsibility, noting that it expanded coverage to more than 20 million people while Congressional Budget Office estimates showed it still saved the federal government money. They contrasted that with a 2003 law to add prescription drug coverage to Medicare, which was not paid for.

Hoyer: House priorities for 2020 include health care, infrastructure, climate, redistricting
Legislative action also planned on appropriations, defense, education, housing, modernizing Congress

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer is outlining a busy legislative agenda for 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats in 2020 plan to pass legislation on top party priorities like health care, infrastructure and climate as well as more under-the-radar subjects like modernizing Congress and redistricting — all while trying to fully fund the government on time for the first time in 24 years, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said.

The No. 2 Democrat, who is in charge of the floor schedule, outlined his legislative priorities for the year in an interview with CQ Roll Call. The aforementioned issues were among a long list that Hoyer said Democrats plan to pursue in the second session of the 116th Congress. Others the Maryland Democrat mentioned include education, taxes, the annual defense and intelligence authorizations, and reauthorizations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and National Flood Insurance Program.

Appeals court hears arguments over health care cost-sharing subsidies

The Supreme Court heard arguments in the cost-sharing subsidies cases in December, and the high court’s decision could impact the cases over the health insurance industry’s claims that the government maintained an implied contract with the plans even in the absence of appropriations. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard arguments Thursday over whether the government owes health insurance plans money through subsidies mandated under the 2010 health care law, which created so-called cost-sharing subsidies for insurers to reduce low-income consumers’ out-of-pocket costs.

President Donald Trump halted the subsidies in 2017, prompting health care plans on the insurance exchanges across the country to increase their premium rates the following year. But Congress never appropriated specific funds for the subsidies, which the federal government argued ended the obligation of the Department of Health and Human Services to pay the plans.