Human Services

Illinois Primaries: Ratings Changes in Two Races
Land of Lincoln may help Democrats gain seats

Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., narrowly survived a primary challenge Tuesday night.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Illinois primaries are in the books, setting the stage for an important set of congressional elections in November. 

Assuming Democrat Conor Lamb is certified as the winner of the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District, Democrats still need a net gain of 23 seats to win the House majority. That’s a big enough gap that Democrats, instead of cherry-picking victories around the country, need to pick up a handful of seats in a few places. Illinois might be one of those states.

Hatch Blasts White House Trade Policy, Seeks Action On Trade Imbalances
Finance chairman takes aim at China over steel and aluminum production, intellectual property

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, left, said that the U.S. is currently in “one of the most challenging trade environments” that he has seen in his four decades in the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch on Tuesday issued a blistering critique of the Trump administration’s trade policy and called on the White House to take action to remedy imbalances with trade partners like China and the European Union. 

The Utah Republican, speaking at a Business Roundtable event with the Farmers for Free Trade, highlighted the threat posed to the U.S. economy by “external opponents and internal skeptics.” 

Perceived Ban on Federal Research for Gun Violence to Remain
Pending omnibus will not reverse the “Dickey Amendment”

Students protested in front of the Capitol last week as part of a national walkout and called on Congress to act on gun violence prevention. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The pending fiscal year 2018 spending bill will not address a perceived ban on the federal government conducting research into gun violence, according to congressional aides.

Whether any other gun control measures are added to the spending bill, expected to be released Monday evening, remains an open question. Aides said no final decision has been made yet whether to include Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn’s legislation related to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

At the Races: Here We Go — 5 Days Until PA-18
Our weekly newsletter on congressional campaigns

Donna Shalala, Others Hope Name Recognition Helps in Crowded Primaries
Former Clinton Cabinet secretary enters an already crowded primary field for Florida’s 27th District

Former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala, seen here with Chelsea Clinton in New York last year, has announced a bid for Florida’s 27th District. (Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for City Harvest file photo)

If there’s been one consistent sign of Democratic optimism this cycle, it’s the unprecedented number of Democrats interested in running for Congress.

Candidates keep announcing, and in many more districts than Democrats have targeted before. But in some of these races, there’s already been a Democratic candidate, or ten, for months.

The Never-Ending Crisis at the Indian Health Service
As the chronically under-funded agency struggles, American Indians are getting sicker and dying sooner

Patients wait at an Indian Health Service clinic on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. (Will Kincaid/AP)

The health disparities between American Indians and the rest of the United States population are stark. American Indians are 50 percent more likely than others to have a substance use disorder, 60 percent more likely to commit suicide, twice as likely to smoke, twice as likely to die during childbirth, three times more likely to die from diabetes and five times more likely to die from tuberculosis. They die on average five years sooner than other Americans.

The Trump administration has pledged to make tribal health care systems more effective. During one of his confirmation hearings, new Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told senators the administration would welcome opportunities to improve the $5 billion Indian Health Service, which provides care for 2.2 million American Indians. “It’s unacceptable for us to not be providing high-quality service,” Azar said.

Opinion: Doctors Are Drowning in Data Entry as Health IT Policy Lags
With the renaissance in health technology has come growing pains

The 21st Century Cures Act — championed by Reps. Fred Upton and Diana DeGette — was a step toward updating our nation’s health IT policy. Now HHS needs to follow through, write Marchibroda and White. (Al Drago/Roll Call file photo)

There is no doubt that information technology has revolutionized the way we treat patients in the United States.

Electronic health records are widespread, and people can schedule a doctor’s appointment on a smartphone app. But with this renaissance in technology has come growing pains, as our regulatory framework has struggled to keep pace with private sector advances.

States Weigh Response to Proposed Short-Term Health Plan Rule
Trump administration wants to expand temporary plans, but some states worry it could undermine their marketplaces

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and the Trump administration are proposing new regulations for short-term health insurance plans. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Trump administration’s proposal to increase how long consumers can maintain a short-term health insurance policy offers states an opportunity to either rebel or endorse the change.

While officials in some states are looking to reject the proposed rule — which would allow people to be covered by a short-term, limited duration health plan for 364 days — others have sought to codify the proposal in state law.

Opinion: If Nothing Else, the Budget Act Is a Win for Chronic Care
Deficit hawks might not like the recent budget deal, but it brings hope to people living with disabilities and chronic illness

Disability rights advocates gather in the atrium of the Hart Building on July 25, 2017. This year’s bipartisan deal may have alarmed deficit hawks, but it contains provisions that give hope to people living with disabilities and chronic conditions, Hayes writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

While the recent passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 caused alarm for deficit hawks, one piece of it has given hope to those working to address the needs of people living with disabilities or chronic illness. By reshaping coverage and payment under Medicare, the CHRONIC Care Act could accomplish what decades of federal policy have not.

Now all we have to do is make sure the new law is implemented to create meaningful change.

Administration Pushes Abstinence Promotion
Latest moves alarm reproductive rights advocates

Recording artist Ciara, center, performs in honor of National Teen Pregnancy Awareness Month in New York’s Times Square in 2011. (Jason Kempin/Getty Images file photo)

Recent administrative actions signal a shift from promoting comprehensive sexual health information to abstinence-only education, which concerns reproductive rights advocates who question abstinence promotion’s efficacy at preventing teen pregnancy.

The administration already announced last year the discontinuation of a teen pregnancy prevention, or TPP, program that funded grants to communities that study ways to prevent teens from getting pregnant and run prevention programs. The Department of Health and Human Services has promoted more abstinence-only alternatives and increasingly uses the phrase “sexual risk avoidance,” another term for abstinence, in materials.