Medicare

Drug Pricing Proposal Should Revamp Medicare, GOP Experts Say
Overhauling Part B drug benefit could have “massive impact overnight”

HHS Secretary Alex Azar has been outspoken in seeking to carry out the president’s push to reduce drug costs. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An upcoming Trump administration proposal on lowering drug costs should ask Congress to allow private insurance companies to negotiate prices for drugs administered in a doctor’s office or hospital, two Republican policy experts said.

The administration’s proposal is a request for comment on strategies to lower drug prices and out-of-pocket costs. It was originally expected to be released in tandem with a speech by President Donald Trump on Thursday, but the speech was delayed as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar recovers from an infection.

Committees Tackle Politically Powerful Issue of Opioids Legislation
Senate HELP panel advanced bipartisan package Tuesday

Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, chairs the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, which will consider over 60 bills to address the opioids crisis at a Wednesday markup. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House heads into a marathon opioid markup Wednesday, a day after the Senate health committee approved bipartisan legislation of its own addressing the crisis. Both chambers are eager to advance bills to combat the crisis under an aggressive timeline, with an eye toward demonstrating action before the midterms on an issue that affects voters representing most demographics and districts.

“Even though this epidemic is worse in some parts of the country than others, find me a congressional district where this isn’t an issue,” said Keith Humphreys, a drug policy expert at Stanford. “Absolutely, they do not want to go into an election and have their constituents mad at them.”

Here’s What Tonight’s Arizona 8th Special Election Means for 2018
Race to replace Rep. Trent Franks in the 8th District is Tuesday

Voters in Arizona’s 8th District will choose between Republican Debbie Lesko and Democrat Hiral Tipirneni on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The special election in Arizona’s 8th District will set the stage for a hotly contested Senate race and a handful of competitive House races in the Grand Canyon State. And both parties are watching for indications of what’s to come in November.

More than 150,000 people have already voted in the contest to replace Republican Rep. Trent Franks, who resigned in December amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Democrats are hopeful they can make the race close even though President Donald Trump carried the suburban Phoenix-based district by 21 points in 2016. And Republicans know analysts will be looking at the outcome for signs of a potential blue wave.

Senate Majority PAC Defends Tester in First Statewide Ad in Montana
Spot pushes back against Americans for Prosperity’s health care attack

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., is getting some help on the airwaves from Senate Majority PAC. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Democratic super PAC is defending Montana Sen. Jon Tester from a recent attack by Americans for Prosperity with a TV ad of its own.

Senate Majority PAC, which supports Senate Democrats, is debuting its first statewide TV ad in Montana on Tuesday, backed by a $400,000 buy.

Who Can Fill Paul Ryan’s Shoes in the House GOP?
He may be retiring from Congress, but that doesn’t mean he’s going away

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who kept a fractured party together and raised gobs of campaign cash, could be a tough act to follow. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The brain drain from departing House Republicans with policy expertise had sparked worry among party insiders even before Speaker Paul D. Ryan announced his plans to retire.

Now, the extraordinary attrition, along with a potentially brutal upcoming midterm campaign, is enough to send the GOP into panic mode.

Arizona’s Special Election Heads to Home Stretch
Both parties watching whether 8th District race will be close

Arizona Republican Debbie Lesko has benefited from significant outside spending in the 8th District special election. (Courtesy Debbie Lesko for Congress)

Rep. Trent Franks resigned in December amid allegations that he sexually harassed female staffers. Next week, no matter which party wins the race to replace the Arizona Republican, a woman will be elected to succeed him.

The April 24 special election in the 8th District pits former GOP state Sen. Debbie Lesko against Democrat Hiral Tipirneni, a cancer research advocate and former emergency room physician. The two could also meet again in November since both intend to file to run for a full term.

Tax Day Fight Previews Larger Political Battle Over New Law
Midterm messaging is likely to contain a heaping dose of tax rhetoric

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., holds a sample of a postcard-style tax filing during a news conference in the House studio after a meeting of the GOP Conference on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As citizens across the country rush to submit their 2017 tax returns before the deadline, Republicans and Democrats in Congress on Tuesday amped up the messaging battle over last year’s tax law.

The dueling talking points presented by each party are a preview of the months to come as the midterm elections approach.

Rohrabacher Challenger Keirstead Drops $152,000 for First TV Ad
Ad goes after Trump in district that Hillary Clinton won in 2016

Democratic candidate for California's 48th District Hans Keirstead released his first ad. (Keirstead campaign via YouTube)

One of the Democratic challengers to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is spending $152,000 on his first ad in California’s 48th District.

Hans Keirstead never mentions Rohrabacher by name in the ad.

Balanced-Budget Amendment Falls Short in House
Roll call vote could provide midterm campaign fodder

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., encouraged her caucus to vote against the balanced budget amendment. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans fell short of the two-thirds support needed to send a balanced-budget amendment to the Senate on Thursday, but they succeeded in getting a roll call vote that can be used during the midterm campaigns to criticize Democrats as lax on fiscal discipline.

The 233-184 vote followed four hours of debate that centered on the growth of entitlement programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, as well as how balancing the budget would impact the economy.

Ryan: Liberated Deficit Hawk or Lame Duck Whose Quack Won’t Be Heard?
Keeping his options open might mean reviving his personas of Trump critic and fiscal doomsayer

Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., announces his retirement at a press conference on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Paul D. Ryan is the first speaker of the House to depart on his own timetable in more than three decades. So what’s he going to do with the time he’s given himself for trying to massage his wounded legacy?

His most obvious option is working to revive a pair of well-remembered but recently abandoned roles — earnest fiscal doomsayer in a time of coursing red ink, and steward of seriousness and stability in a Republican Party that’s in the thrall of President Donald Trump.