Medicare

House passes repeal of Obamacare tax on high-cost plans
‘Cadillac tax’ never took effect under intense lobbying against it by employers and unions

“If we fail to repeal the Cadillac tax, we will leave working families with less health care coverage, higher out-of-pocket health care costs and little to no wage increases,” says Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House passed, 419-6, legislation Wednesday to repeal the so-called Cadillac tax, pleasing health insurers, unions and a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers who have long pushed to scrap the levy.

The measure would permanently repeal the 40 percent excise tax on high-cost employer-provided health insurance, which was envisioned as a key way to pay for the 2010 health care law. The tax, which Congress twice delayed from taking effect, is set to go into effect in 2022.

Congress is Trump’s best hope for drug pricing action
But divisions remain between Republicans and Democrats, House and Senate

The administration will need congressional help to take action this year on drug prices. (File photo)

An upcoming Senate bill is the Trump administration’s best hope for a significant achievement before next year’s election to lower prescription drug prices, but a lot still needs to go right for anything to become law.

Despite the overwhelming desire for action, there are still policy gulfs between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, and another gap between the Senate and the House. And the politics of the moment might derail potential policy agreements. Some Democrats might balk at settling for a drug pricing compromise that President Donald Trump endorsed.

Health care continues to define, divide 2020 Democratic field
As candidates debate plans and GOP preps attacks, some early voters just tuning in

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden said he would build on the 2010 health insurance overhaul enacted by President Barack Obama instead of creating a new system, a clear line of demarcation between him and several other Democrats running for the nomination. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Declaring that “starting over makes no sense,” former Vice President Joe Biden said Monday that he would build on Democrats’ signature 2010 health insurance overhaul and that plans offered by rivals for the presidential nomination would reverse gains made under President Barack Obama.

Biden released his plan ahead of a speech that Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is to give Wednesday to promote a government-run “Medicare for All” system. It is the first of several forums hosted by AARP in Iowa, where 2020 hopefuls will talk about how to lower prescription drug prices.

Trump unveils sweeping goals on kidney disease
Executive order aims to improve quality and cut costs by refocusing care on prevention

President Donald Trump arrives for a rally in Montoursville, Pa., on May 20, 2019. Trump on Wednesday outlined an agenda to improve preventive treatment of kidney disease. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump outlined an agenda to improve preventive treatment of kidney disease Wednesday, zeroing in on a condition that afflicts more than 30 million Americans and costs more than $100 billion in annual Medicare spending.

The executive order Trump signed aims to improve quality and cut costs by refocusing care on prevention. The initiative’s overarching goals are to reduce the number of new patients with end-stage renal disease by 25 percent by 2030, and to have 80 percent of ESRD patients either receiving in-home dialysis or transplants by 2025.

Federal appeals court questions legality of Obamacare insurance mandate
Case has high stakes for health care law’s future

Senate and House Democrats hold a Tuesday news conference on the Senate steps on health care coverage of preexisting conditions. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

A three-judge panel on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals suggested during a Tuesday hearing it might uphold at least part of a lower court ruling to strike down the 2010 health care law.

Two judges, both appointed by Republican presidents, questioned the constitutionality of the law’s requirement that most Americans get health care coverage. A third, appointed by Democratic President Jimmy Carter, stayed silent throughout the nearly two-hour oral argument hearing in New Orleans, which follows a December decision by federal Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas calling for the law to be struck down.

States grapple with Medicaid work requirements
The path to implementing work requirements has been tricky and controversial

Protesters gathered when Congress tried to make funding adjustments to the Medicaid program. Now states are starting to make changes by adding work requirements. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

State action to implement work requirements into their Medicaid programs is heating up, as some states roll out their programs while others are fighting in court to keep them alive.

New Hampshire announced Monday it would delay suspending any Medicaid coverage until September because of consumers’ noncompliance with the work requirements. Meanwhile, Indiana on July 1 began the first steps of implementing its work requirements. Court action in three other states is expected in the coming months.

Former Illinois Rep. Bobby Schilling announces he’s running in Iowa
Former congressman moved across the river from his old district in 2017

Former Illinois Rep. Bobby Schilling, who lost to DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos after district lines were redrawn, is running for the seat that Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack is retiring from in Iowa . (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Illinois Rep. Bobby Schilling announced that he’s running for the open seat in Iowa’s 2nd District, across the Mississippi River from his old district.

Iowa Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack announced in April that he would retire at the end of his seventh term next year. The race could be competitive: President Donald Trump carried the district in 2016.

House brief on Trump’s ‘disdain’ kicks off what could be messy two weeks
Cases in D.C., New Orleans showcase tussle between branches of government

House Oversight and Reform chairman Elijah Cummings is leading a House effort to subpoena President Donald Trump’s financial records. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House told a federal appeals court Monday that President Donald Trump has “disdain” for congressional oversight ahead of action next week on the House’s efforts to subpoena his financial records from accounting firm Mazars USA. The brief sets the stage for what could be a messy couple of weeks legally on fights between Congress and the administration. 

“Mr. Trump’s disdain for the constitutionally based role of Congress in carrying out oversight of the Executive Branch, and for the specific investigations of the Oversight Committee at issue here, is not a basis for this Court to reverse the district court’s holding that the subpoena is valid and enforceable,” the brief stated.

Kamala Harris backtracks on eliminating private health insurance
Raised hand in Democratic presidential debate after question about elimination

Democratic presidential candidate and California Sen. Kamala Harris leaves the Capitol Friday after voting on an amendment that would prohibit a U.S. strike on Iran without Congressional authorization on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

California Sen. Kamala Harris  walked back her support for eliminating private health insurance Friday, a day after she raised her hand during a Democratic presidential primary debate to indicate she supported getting rid of it.

Harris said Friday on MSNBC that she raised her hand with the intention of saying she personally would get rid of her private insurance plan in favor of a “Medicare for All” plan, but does not support eliminating private insurance. People could keep private insurance coverage for supplemental coverage, she said.

6 ‘food fights’ in Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate
Candidates take shots at Trump, Congress and each other in second Miami debate

California Sen. Kamala Harris, right, and former Vice President Joe Biden, left, speak as Sen. Bernie Sanders looks on during the second Democratic presidential debate in Miami, Florida. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidates were on attack mode in the second night of their first Democratic debate, with the 10 contenders onstage taking aim at President Donald Trump and each other.

Trump’s name came up more often during Thursday’s debate than during Wednesday’s, which featured 10 other candidates. Thursday’s contenders also directly challenged one another, with the two leading the polls, former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, facing the most criticism.