Medicaid

When Things Get Heated in the Hearing Room
Strzok shouting match is hardly the first time emotions have erupted in the paneled recesses of the Capitol

Posters depicting the men who have pleaded guilty in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe are displayed alongside Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., as he gives his opening statement Thursday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

FBI agent Peter Strzok felt the heat at Thursday’s House Oversight and Judiciary hearing, as tempers flared and points of order flew.  

Chairman Trey Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, brought the interrogative theatrics. “I don’t give a damn what you appreciate, Agent Strzok,” the South Carolina Republican told the witness, who was removed from the bureau’s Russia probe last year over politically charged texts.

$177.1 Billion Labor-HHS-Education Moves Forward With Family Separation Changes
House Appropriations has approved 11 of 12 fiscal 2019 spending measures

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., wants the Labor-HHS-Education bill linked to the Defense bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Appropriations Committee late Wednesday evening approved, 30-22, a $177.1 billion fiscal 2019 bill to fund the departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services.

The committee has now approved 11 of its 12 fiscal 2019 spending measures, following the marathon 13-hour markup of the massive nondefense bill that left lawmakers from both parties exasperated at various points. The debate covered family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border, gun research funding, abstinence-only sex education and thorny political issues around religious adoption agencies.

Hospital Drug Discount Program Under Lawmakers’ Microscope
House panel to examine legislation Wednesday

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was to address a conference of hospitals participating in a drug discount program facing Congressional scrutiny. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A House panel that has been scrutinizing hospitals’ use of a drug discount program will examine on Wednesday pieces of legislation that stem from members’ concerns over the discounts.

The Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight panel has had two hearings in the past year on the program, known as 340B. The committee has requested information from hospitals that participate and in January published a report outlining ways the drug discount program could be better run.

Opinion: Our Growing Economy Should Not Leave Rural America Behind
New report from Joint Economic Committee Democrats offers ideas to help communities thrive

Wind turbines in eastern West Virginia. Wind turbine service technicians will be in heavy demand in rural areas, as the occupation is project to rank among the fastest-growing in the country over the next 10 years, Heinrich writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rural communities hold a special place in my heart. Not only because so many of the New Mexicans I represent live in rural areas, but also because I was raised in rural America. I know firsthand what it’s like to grow up in a small town, seeing both of my parents work long hours just to make ends meet and to provide a better future for my sisters and me.

A decade after the Great Recession, the overall economic picture for rural communities remains challenging. Not only are residents growing older, but two-thirds of rural counties lost population between 2010 and 2016. New job opportunities have lagged behind those in urban areas, and rural employment remains below pre-recession levels. Even when you have a job in rural America, too often your wages aren’t growing as fast as those in other places.

Opinion: To Keep Drug Costs Low, Think Competition, Not Price Controls
A robust, competitive market is the best way to promote innovation and reduce prices

If we truly want to reduce drug costs and make life-changing medications accessible to all Americans, we must increase competition among prescription drugs, Hatch writes. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

Even in today’s highly partisan environment, there’s one thing nearly all Americans agree on: The soaring cost of prescription drugs is alarming.

In fact, 80 percent of Americans consider the cost of prescription drugs unreasonable. At the same time, a majority of Americans recognize that prescription drugs have improved countless lives. The president’s recently unveiled comprehensive blueprint to lower prescription drug costs has many ideas worthy of exploration. However, if we truly want to reduce costs and make life-changing and life-saving medications accessible to all Americans, we must increase competition among prescription drugs — particularly new drugs that have the ability to cure diseases, but face limited competition.

House Passes Bipartisan Opioid Bill Package
Bill ‘does not adequately deal with the magnitude of the crisis,’ Pallone says

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon helped put together the opioids package that passed Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House on Friday passed a bill that will serve as the legislative vehicle for many of the 55 other House-passed bills designed to curb opioid addiction, ending two weeks of floor votes on opioids measures.

The catchall bill, which advanced 396-14, would incorporate a number of proposals from the Energy and Commerce and the Ways and Means committees relating to Medicaid, Medicare, and public health. A group of 161 patient advocacy groups wrote to Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi this week in support of the legislation.

Trump Administration Finalizes Rule on Health Plans
“You’re going to save massive amounts of money and have much better health care,” president says

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta suggested the new rule on associate health plans would help ease regulatory burdens on small businesses. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration on Tuesday finalized a rule expanding the availability of alternative insurance plans that do not meet the 2010 health care law’s requirements despite objections from consumer advocates and the industry.

The rule will extend so-called association health plans, which allow insurance companies to skirt benefit requirements and other parts of the 2010 law. President Donald Trump heralded the new rule in a speech Tuesday to the National Federation of Independent Business trade group, or NFIB.

House Budget Would Direct $302 Billion in 10-Year Spending Cuts
‘Three-step process to give to the rich and make everyone else pay for it,’ Democrats say

Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., walks down the House steps after final votes of the week in the Capitol on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Budget Chairman Steve Womack’s fiscal 2019 budget resolution charts a path to balancing the budget in nine years through a combination of steep cuts in mandatory spending programs, freezing nondefense discretionary spending and banking on robust economic growth, according to a summary.

Under the draft fiscal blueprint, which will be marked up in committee Wednesday and Thursday, the deficit would be reduced by $8.1 trillion over 10 years compared to current law or policy. The budget would produce a surplus of $26 billion in 2027 if all of the assumed policies were enacted, growing to $142 billion in 2028.

Podcast: Some Red States Coming Around to Obamacare
CQ on Congress, Episode 107

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., speaks during the Senate Democrats' rally against Medicaid cuts in front of the U.S. Capitol on  June 6, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Voters in some GOP-leaning states will get a chance to adopt the 2010 health care law's Medicaid expansion by ballot initiative this November while others may elect governors who support it, says CQ health care reporter Misty Williams. It's an indication that even some conservative states are coming to accept the Affordable Care Act as the law of the land.

Show Notes:

House Prepares for Week of Action on Opioid Bills
‘Collectively these bills do not go far enough’

Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., participates in the House Democrats’ news conference on health care reform in the Capitol on Thursday, July 20, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House will begin a voting marathon Tuesday on 34 bills designed to address the opioid epidemic. While most are not likely to be contentious, two have previously stirred controversy.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., reserved about a week and a half of floor time to discuss opioid legislation. Additional bills are likely to be considered next week, such as four bill packages the House Ways and Means Committee approved with bipartisan support.