Health Care

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.

GOP spending hawks hang up 9/11 bill; passage still likely
Fiscal hawks, Sens. Lee and Paul, often oppose new spending unless paid for with cuts elsewhere in the federal budget

Comedian Jon Stewart is a strong advocate for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A House-passed bill that would extend a financial lifeline to thousands of victims suffering health problems from the 9/11 terrorist attacks is facing some political resistance in the Senate.

Utah Republican Mike Lee has a hold on the legislation, according to the nation’s top firefighters union. And Kentucky Republican Rand Paul objected Wednesday when New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand sought unanimous consent to bring up the bill for a vote.

NASA chief warns yearlong stopgap could cripple return to moon
Sen. Moran asked Administrator Bridenstine for help winning over former House colleagues

The image of a Saturn V, the rocket that sent Apollo 11 into orbit on July 16, 1969, is projected on the Washington monument on July 16, 2019, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to land the first man on the moon. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With celebrations underway marking the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, the NASA administrator is warning that a full-year stopgap spending bill, like one recently floated by the Trump administration, would be “devastating” to U.S. efforts to get back to the moon.

Administrator Jim Bridenstine was at the Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday for a hearing on space exploration to the moon and Mars, when Chairman Roger Wicker, a Mississippi Republican, asked about the potential consequences of a yearlong continuing resolution, or CR.

U.S. health care would collapse without foreign-trained nurses like me, so why did the House vote to ban us?
Fairness Act is anything but fair for immigrant nurses and their patients

The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act would only exacerbate America’s nurse deficit, Roy writes.(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — America’s population is growing, its workforce is aging and its health care system is straining under the weight of both. At the intersection of these trends is the very practical question of just who’s going to care for all these new patients.

Increasingly, the nurse answering that bedside call looks and sounds a lot like me, a first-generation immigrant.

Rep. Will Hurd ‘honored’ to shave constituent’s head
Lisa Sanders, who lost her daughter in 2007 to a brain tumor, ‘braved the shave’ for cancer research fundraiser

Rep. Will Hurd shaves Lisa Sanders' head at a fundraiser for childhood cancer research on Tuesday. (Courtesy St. Baldrick's Foundation)

Rep. Will Hurd helped a hometown hero “brave the shave” Tuesday at a fundraiser for childhood cancer research.

The Texas Republican shaved the head of Lisa Sanders from Helotes, Texas, at a “46 Mommas” event hosted by St. Baldrick's Foundation — a volunteer- and donor-powered charity focused on curing childhood cancer, according to its website.

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.

House to vote on health care ‘Cadillac tax’ repeal
Surcharge on certain high-cost employer health plans was envisioned as a way to pay for Obamacare law

Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., sponsored the repeal bill, which has been a priority for both the insurance industry and labor unions. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House plans to vote Wednesday on legislation that would roll back the so-called “Cadillac tax” under the 2010 health care law known as Obamacare.

The 40 percent surcharge tax applies to certain high-cost employer health care plans (hence the “Cadillac tax” nickname). It isn’t set to take effect until 2022, and Congress has twice delayed its implementation.

Papaya outbreak highlights FDA’s food safety challenge
‘Inability to track and trace foods with speed or precision’ is agency’s ‘Achilles’ heel’

Salmonella infections caused by contaminated papayas highlight the challenges Food and Drug Administration officials face in fighting foodborne illness. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Salmonella infections caused by contaminated papayas highlight the challenges federal officials face in fighting foodborne illness, as a law from nearly a decade ago meant to modernize the food safety system is starting to show its age. 

The Food and Drug Administration is trying to bring its efforts to track and prevent outbreaks in line with the technology now at its disposal. But because spending for next year is uncertain, Congress could make it difficult for the agency.

Pelosi: Extra veterans health care funds needed in debt deal
Letter to Mnuchin opens new front in talks to raise debt limit and 2020 spending caps

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that funds for veterans health care should be included in any deal to raise the debt ceiling and spending caps. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Saturday pressing for added funds to help veterans see private doctors as part of any deal to raise the debt ceiling and tight appropriations caps.

Pelosi’s letter opens a new front in the talks as congressional leaders and the White House head into high-stakes negotiations with little time remaining before the August recess.

Court allows administration family planning rule
The move is a blow to Planned Parenthood and abortion rights groups

Court ruling will likely please anti-abortion groups seeking to restrict funding for abortion providers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit said Thursday it would allow a Trump administration rule to take effect that would prohibit certain providers like Planned Parenthood from being eligible for federal family planning funds.

The move is a blow to abortion rights groups that have been fighting the policy in court. The Health and Human Services rule would prevent any provider of abortions or abortion referrals from qualifying for federal family planning funding under the program known as Title X.

As other Democratic candidates close in on Biden, Trump tries to ‘soften up the front-runner’
President calls former VP a ‘reclamation project’ after sluggish debate performance

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s sluggish performance at last month’s Democratic debate has not escaped President Donald Trump’s notice. (Getty Images file photos/Composition by Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic White House front-runner Joe Biden has slipped in the polls, but President Donald Trump has only intensified his attempts to discredit and disqualify the former vice president.

In the last five days alone, the president has dubbed his potential 2020 rival “sleepy” and “a reclamation project,” suggesting in one tweet that “some things are just not salvageable.” He has asserted that China and other countries are “begging” for a President Biden so they can get back to trade tactics that “ripped us off for years.”

‘I learned to inject oranges with insulin syringes’: Victor Garber on Type 1 diabetes
Familiar face from ‘Titanic’ urges Congress to renew research funding

Actor Victor Garber, who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 11, testifies during a Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing in the Dirksen Building on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

If you ever went to the movies in the ’90s or the early aughts, you may recognize Victor Garber as the “bad guy” from “Legally Blonde” or “the ship designer” from “Titanic,” but on Wednesday the award-winning actor came to Capitol Hill with a script that was a little more personal.

Garber says he’s lived with Type 1 diabetes for nearly 60 years. Joined by kid-advocates with the disease, he urged Chairwoman Susan Collins and ranking member Bob Casey of the Senate Special Committee on Aging to renew the Special Diabetes Program at the National Institutes of Health.

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.