Health Care

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.

Lawmakers Call for More Resources for Separated Migrant Children
Murray questions whether HHS can handle the situation

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said she was troubled by the lack of information from the administration about the children in its care. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers and public health groups on Thursday urged the Trump administration to commit more resources to the health needs of the immigrant children who have been separated from their families at the border.

Even as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar visited the Texas-Mexico border with first lady Melania Trump, questions remained about whether the department has adequate funding to handle the situation and how much more might be needed.

Bipartisan Lawmakers Call for Better Alzheimer’s Detection Capabilities
Proposed comprehensive detection measures aim to lessen burden on families and patients

Representative Linda Sanchez, D-Calif.,  on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Bipartisan lawmakers, policy advocates, and medical professionals came together Tuesday with nonprofit UsAgainstAlzheimer’s to call for earlier assessment and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

West Virginia Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and California Democratic Rep. Linda T. Sanchez touted the CHANGE Act, legislation introduced in February by Capito and Democratic colleague Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.

Analysis: Migrants, ‘Rocket Man’ and Trump’s Ever-Changing Mind
Executive order another contradictory move in an ever-changing presidency

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he arrives at the Capitol for a meeting on immigration with House Republicans on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Donald Trump is a hardliner. Until he’s not. Donald Trump is open to compromise. Until he’s not.

The president — yet again — on Thursday reversed himself on a major issue by ending his administration’s practice of separating migrant families. In doing so, he bowed to all kinds of pressure: from his wife and daughter, from human rights groups, from Democratic members — and even from his fellow Republicans.

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.

Congress’ Move to Leave Obamacare Mostly Intact May Save Law
Supporters, opponents of health care law unite on new brief

Five law professors argue in a brief that the Justice Department and 20 GOP-led states are wrong when they say other major provisions in the 2010 health care law must be struck down. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congress killed off a key penalty in the 2010 health care law last year but left the rest of the law intact — and that might prove pivotal to a lawsuit in which the Justice Department and 20 Republican-led states argue that the law’s other major provisions must now be struck down.

That’s because the federal courts will look at what Congress intended to accomplish regardless of what individual lawmakers wanted to do, according to a group of five law professors with deep experience in litigation over the health care law.

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:

Hatch Seeks Quick House Action to Improve Suicide Prevention Hotline
Legislation passed Senate last November

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch has renewed his push to improve a hotline designed to help prevent suicides. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After recent high-profile suicides, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch is pushing for the House to expedite work on a bipartisan bill to improve the national suicide prevention hotline.

“Our bill requires the FCC to recommend an easy-to-remember, three-digit number for the national suicide prevention hotline. I believe that by making the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline system more user-friendly and accessible, we can save thousands of lives by helping people find the help they need when they need it most,” the Utah Republican said in a floor speech. “The Senate passed our bill with overwhelming bipartisan support in November. Now it’s time for the House to do its part.”

Democrats Expect Pre-Existing Conditions Defense Will Resonate in 2018
Schumer highlighting DOJ decision not to defend pillars of 2010 health care law

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., says his conference will keep focusing on health care. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats have seized on the Justice Department’s announcement that it will not defend the 2010 health care law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions, sensing an opening for the midterms.

House Democratic leaders have scheduled a Wednesday afternoon press conference to push against the determination announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and that opposition looks to be a key pillar of the strategy of Senate Democrats and their supporters going into the fall.

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.

Fall Elections Key Moment in Medicaid Expansion Debate
Recent developments in Virginia are giving advocates hope

From left, former Reps. Adam H. Putnam and Gwen Graham and Rep. Ron DeSantis are running for Florida governor. Graham, a Democrat, supports expanding Medicaid in the state, while Punam and DeSantis, both Republicans, oppose broadening the program. (Ryan Kelly/Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photos)

The midterm elections are poised to play a pivotal role in whether more states expand Medicaid eligibility, as the number of red-state holdouts dwindles.

Governors’ races in states such as Florida and Kansas, along with ballot initiatives in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah, are being watched closely by Medicaid experts this year.

For Some in Congress, the Opioid Crisis Is Personal
Lawmakers share the stories behind their efforts to combat the epidemic

Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson lost his grandson to an opioid overdose. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As drug overdoses climb — rising 12 percent between October 2016 and October 2017 — Congress has floated dozens of proposals to combat opioid abuse.

Some lawmakers have deeply personal connections to the epidemic of addiction in America. These are their stories.

Warren, Gardner Unveil Marijuana Bill Easing Federal Enforcement
Bipartisan legislation would bar interference in states with legal marijuana

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., hold a press conference in the Senate Radio and TV Gallery to discuss bipartisan action they are taking to put marijuana legislation into the hands of state lawmakers on Thursday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., are rarely on the same side of a hot-button issue. But the two senators shared a podium Thursday to launch new legislation on an issue they can agree on: keeping federal hands off state-legalized marijuana.

The two senators on Thursday unveiled bipartisan legislation that would protect marijuana users and businesses from federal interference in states that have legalized the drug. The legislation would allow states to pursue liberalized marijuana policies as they see fit, they said.

U.S. May Fall Behind on Space Research, Lawmakers Warn
Experts warn of potential problems with privatizing International Space Station

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, left, speaks as Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., listens during the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee’s Space, Science and Competitiveness Subcommittee hearing on “Examining the Future of the International Space Station: Stakeholder Perspectives” on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Already in the midst of a trade war with China, some lawmakers worry that the United States may lose to the country in another realm — space innovation.

A Space, Science and Competitiveness Subcommittee hearing this week  focused on the possible implications of turning the United States’ stake in the International Space Station over to private industry.

Senators Fight Over How to Use Canceled Recess Weeks
Republicans point to judicial nominations and appropriations, Democrats say health care

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., flanked from left by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. John Thune, R-S. Dak., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, speaks to reporters in the Ohio Clock Corridor after the Senate Republicans’ policy lunch on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Democrats and Republicans are facing off for the best way to use their three extra weeks in the “swamp.”

After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the chamber would remain in session for three weeks in August, both parties put in their two cents on how to best use the extra time. Democrats say focus on health care, while Republicans want to approve more of President Donald Trump’s nominees.