Medicaid

How Ralph Northam is spending his Black History Month
The African-Americans of his state have done a whole lot of forgiving since the first enslaved people were brought there centuries ago

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has been doing a lot of learning this month — about blackface, apologies and redemption. African-Americans who believe he should stay in his post are used to making political compromises to survive, Curtis writes. (Alex Edelman/Getty Images)

OPINION — The lessons of this February’s Black History Month commemorations have already veered far beyond the usual ones that begin and end by quoting a snippet of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech — the part about judging folks not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. A new curriculum is being written in real time, affecting real-life politicians and their constituents. And Virginia is hardly the only state not ready for the big exam.

Of course, the politician in question, Gov. Ralph Northam, has been learning as he goes — about blackface, about apologies and about redemption.

Drug pricing is secretive. Fix that first
If the rebate system is a complex web, consumers are the ones who get caught

By the time patients pull out their wallets at the pharmacy, their drugs have passed through an elaborate rebate system, Hoagland writes. Above, a technician grabs a bottle in Midvale, Utah. (George Frey/Getty Images)

OPINION — Health care economist Uwe Reinhardt once described pricing in the health care sector as “chaos behind a veil of secrecy.” That description aptly applies to the opaque U.S. pharmaceutical market.

To make health care policy that works, we must lift the secret veil on drug pricing. The administration’s recent proposal to fundamentally change the drug rebate process is one step in that direction.

Trump could be his own biggest obstacle on HIV/AIDS plan
Administration’s broader policies are at odds with increasing access to drugs and other steps

President Donald Trump talks with members after his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the House chamber on January 30, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s plan to eliminate HIV transmission in the United States by 2030, which he announced Tuesday night, would be an ambitious goal that would require his administration to reverse course on a number of policies that potentially hinder access to HIV/AIDS care.

“Together, we will defeat AIDS in America,” Trump said in his State of the Union address. He said that his budget will “ask Democrats and Republicans to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years.”

Azar touts rebate proposal as solution to 'broken' system
The proposal would create safe harbors under the anti-kickback statute for upfront discounts to patients and flat service fees to PBMs

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar testifying at a hearing called "Prescription Drug Affordability and Innovation: Addressing Challenges in Today's Market" in front of the Senate Finance Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building Tuesday, June 26, 2018 (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Friday pitched a proposal he released the day before as a major step in reforming the complex system of the prescription drug supply chain and lowering prices.

The proposed rule released by HHS and the Office of the Inspector General Thursday would eliminate federal protections for manufacturer rebates paid to health plans and pharmacy benefit managers under federal health programs, although Azar expects the rule would also trigger changes in the commercial market. The proposal would instead create safe harbors under the anti-kickback statute for upfront discounts to patients and flat service fees to PBMs.

House, Senate panels begin hearings seeking drug cost solutions
Future hearings will likely focus more on legislative proposals, and at some point members hope that drug companies will share their ideas

From left, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Mark Meadows, R-N.C., talk during a House Oversight and Reform Committee business meeting in Rayburn Building on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers emphasized the steep cost of the diabetes treatment insulin and ways to use Medicare and Medicaid to discourage companies from setting high prices as Congress kicked off a series of drug price hearings Tuesday.

Hearings before the Senate Finance and the House Oversight and Reform committees featured academics and patient advocates as lawmakers in both chambers investigate why drug prices are high and what Congress can do about it.

Marching abortion opponents have message for Trump administration: Do more
Advocates push fetal tissue, family planning changes

Attendees at the 2017 March for Life bow their heads in prayer near the Washington Monument during the speaking program. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Thousands of abortion opponents will take to the streets of Washington on Friday for the nation’s largest annual anti-abortion rally, coinciding with a flood of anti-abortion action from government officials that underscore the movement’s priorities for 2019.

The March for Life is held every January to protest the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case that guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion nationwide.

Which ballot measure would you rather have a beer with?
Voters routinely back initiatives that clash with their candidate picks — and that’s changing how things get done

In Colorado, liberal enthusiasm propelled Jared Polis into the governor’s mansion. But it wasn’t enough to carry any of three high-profile ballot measures supported by the state Democratic Party. (Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images file photo)

As voters across the country made their choices last year on ballot issues and political candidates, a disconnect emerged.

While Democrats in Colorado swept statewide races, voters sent a different message on taxes and spending by rejecting ballot measures endorsed by Democrats that would have increased revenue for education and transportation.

White House to put Medicare cuts on hold during shutdown
Pay-as-you-go law would force cuts if shutdown lingers until Jan. 24

If the shutdown lingers until Jan. 24, under current law, the OMB would be forced to slice around $839 million from nonexempt programs across the government. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration won’t order up a round of cuts in federal benefit programs, primarily Medicare, if the partial government shutdown remains in effect later this month, a senior Office of Management and Budget official said.

If the shutdown lingers until Jan. 24, under current law, the OMB would be forced to slice around $839 million from nonexempt programs across the government. That number represents the figure left on the pay-as-you-go “scorecard” for 2018, specifying the net amount added to the fiscal 2019 deficit by laws enacted last year, excluding emergency spending that is exempt from the calculation.

Opposition to Pay-As-You-Go Proposal Prevents Unity on House Democrats’ Rules Package
Other changes designed to open up the legislative process have broad support

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., said he will oppose House Democrats’ rules package for the 116th Congress because of a provision known as pay-as-you-go or PAYGO that requires offsets for deficit increasing legislation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats’ rules for the 116th Congress contain a wide array of consensus changes, but a pay-as-you-go provision that would require offsets for deficit-increasing legislation is preventing party unity on the package. 

At least two progressive members, California Rep. Ro Khanna and New York Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, said they will oppose the rules package because of the provision. 

Trump to Huddle With House Republicans as Shutdown Situation Fluid
Some Republicans hold out hope that Trump will veto seven-week stopgap

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., left, wants the president to veto the stopgap funding measure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House is weighing a seven-week stopgap spending amid conservative grumbling that it caves to Democrats’ anti-border wall demands.

“My guess is they wouldn’t have brought it to the floor unless they thought they could pass it,” Rep. Bill Flores of Texas said Thursday morning. The measure hadn’t yet been officially scheduled for a vote, however, likely out of concern that the president’s position was still unclear.