Medicare

Poll: More Adults Without Health Insurance After Record Low
1.3 percent uptick in 2017

People rally in favor of single-payer healthcare for all Californians as the US Senate prepares to vote on the Senate GOP health care bill, outside the office of California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, June 27, 2017 in South Gate, California. Rendon announced last week that Senate Bill SB 562 - the high-profile effort to establish a single-payer healthcare system in California - would be shelved, saying it was "incomplete." (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

The percentage of adults without health insurance coverage rose 1.3 percent in 2017, from a record low during the previous year, a new Gallup poll shows. Last year’s rise marked the largest single-year increase since Gallup began tracking the statistic in 2008.

The uninsured rate rose to 12.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to 10.9 percent in 2016, according to the survey. That translates to an additional 3.2 million Americans who became uninsured last year.

Soto Takes Heat for Telling Puerto Rican Evacuees to Say They’re Staying
Evacuees should say they’re staying in Florida to access Medicare or Medicaid, South Florida Democrat says

Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., made waves over the weekend for comments to Puerto Rico hurricane evacuees. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Florida Democrat caught heat over the weekend for telling a group of newly arrived hurricane evacuees from Puerto Rico to say they intend to stay in the state so that they can access health care benefits.

If the evacuees do not check that box on a federal form for Medicare and Medicaid, they will be ineligible to be recipients of those programs.

Analysis: Tough Road Ahead for Ryan in 2018
Will he want to stay in Congress after navigating immigration, budget and midterm challenges?

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., pictured arriving at the Capitol for a meeting to kick off 2018 spending negotiations, has a tough road ahead this year that could make him question his future in Washington. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan insists he’s not going anywhere anytime soon, but he has a tough road ahead in 2018 that could test his patience with his conference, their Senate counterparts, the president and Washington. 

The Wisconsin Republican is known for keeping his cool under pressure. Thus far in his still young speakership, he’s managed to diffuse disagreements within the House Republican Conference before they’ve reached a boiling point. He also claimed a significant victory last year with passage of the landmark tax overhaul bill, a long-held priority for the former Budget and tax-writing chairman.   

U.S. Chamber Will ‘Double Down’ on 2018 Campaigns, Donohue Says
Infrastructure will be a top priority

Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue pledged to “double down” on the group’s multimillion-dollar political efforts this year while also pushing for overhauls in Congress of immigration, infrastructure and entitlement programs.

Donohue said the chamber would invest more money and time on primary elections ahead of the 2018 midterm elections with the goal of restoring more power to the political “middle” while still aiming to keep Republicans in control of the House and Senate. 

GOP Leaders Weighing Mid-February Stopgap, With Sweeteners
CHIP fix could grease bipartisan skids

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., is not thrilled about the prospect of another short-term stopgap spending measure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

GOP leaders are working on a stopgap continuing resolution that would continue current spending levels into mid-February and include a health care package that would reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, fund community health centers and extend various Medicare provisions, people with knowledge of the process say.

Some elements of the proposal are still being worked out, and it is unclear what the final package will look like. But the aim is to draw bipartisan support on the floor of both chambers next week, averting a partial government shutdown after midnight next Friday, Jan. 19, when the current stopgap expires.

CBO: Cost of CHIP Renewal Smaller Than Projected
News should ease Congress’ task to pass legislation

The Congressional Budget Office now estimates the Senate CHIP bill would cost $0.8 billion over 10 years. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers will have to come up with only less than $1 billion to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program, according to a new Congressional Budget Office analysis released Friday. That estimate, far lower than previous projections, should ease lawmakers’ task of passing legislation this month.

In a four-page letter to Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, CBO Director Keith Hall said the Senate CHIP bill would cost $800 million over 10 years. Prior to this, the CHIP bill needed to be offset by about $8 billion over 10 years. The total cost of CHIP over 10 years would be $48.4 billion, but decreases in Medicaid and health care marketplace spending would offset much of that amount.

Opinion: We’re Not in Kansas Anymore, or Are We?
State’s experiment with tax cuts offers a cautionary tale for Washington

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback predicted explosive economic growth from state tax cuts in 2012, but that eventually led to a budget crisis that forced the Legislature to raise income taxes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The 2017 tax bill enactment has left some of us who follow the federal budget wondering whether we are headed the way of Kansas.

In 2012, the state’s Republican governor, Sam Brownback, led his GOP-dominated Legislature to significantly reduce Kansas’ business taxes and set a path to cut income taxes to “zero.” Brownback hailed the tax cuts as a “real-live” experiment in conservative governance that would lead to an explosion of economic growth for the Sunflower State. The real results were anything but sunny.

HHS Political Appointees’ Résumés Show Ties to Price, Pence
Many also have links to conservative groups close to vice president

At least 16 staffers at the Heath and Human Services Department have ties to former Secretary Tom Price, a review of résumés shows. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services include at least 16 staffers with ties to former Secretary Tom Price and at least 12 with connections to Vice President Mike Pence or Indiana, a review of 129 résumés of appointed staffers in the department shows.

Pence’s influence over the agency can be seen in the appointment of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, who worked closely with the former Indiana governor to expand Medicaid in that state, and the appointment of Verma’s deputy Brian Neale, who currently oversees Medicaid and served as Pence’s health care policy director in Indiana. A number of staffers also have ties to conservative groups close to Pence, such as the Heritage Foundation and anti-abortion organizations.

Prosecutors Seek 30-Year Sentence for Doctor Tied to Menendez Case
Menendez awaiting word from DOJ on possible retrial for his own case

A friend of Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., could face up to 30 years behind bars. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Florida eye doctor tied to embattled Sen. Robert Menendez’s hung corruption trial could face up to 30 years in prison.

Salomon Melgen, a longtime friend of the New Jersey Democrat, was convicted last April of 67 crimes including health care fraud, submitting false claims and falsifying records while he snatched more than $100 million from the Medicare system as part of a massive fraud scheme.

Wisconsin Republicans Look to Head Off Divisive Senate Primary
GOP wants candidates to make “unity pledge” to participate in endorsement process

Wisconsin Republicans Kevin Nicholson and Leah Vukmir have both said they will sign the unity pledge. (Courtesy Kevin Nicholson for Senate, Leah Vukmir for Senate)

Wisconsin Republicans are launching a new “unity pledge,” calling for Senate candidates to promise to support the eventual nominee — an attempt to unify after a potentially divisive GOP primary.

The state party announced Wednesday that candidates looking to earn the endorsement of grass-roots conservatives at the state convention will have to sign the pledge. Signees will also agree to conduct their campaigns “in a manner that is respectful of my fellow Republican candidates,” according to a copy of the agreement.