Medicare

Obamacare plan rates to fall in 2020 for second time under Trump
Despite actions to undercut program, marketplaces appear mostly stable

Protesters demonstrate against the Republicans’ health care legislation in 2017 outside the Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Ohio officials faced a situation in the summer of 2017 they viewed as dire: No health insurers were expected to offer any marketplace plans in as many as 20 counties. 

In Ohio and around the nation, officials scrambled that year to recruit insurers to make sure that every county had at least one plan in the marketplaces created by the 2010 health care law. Insurers, deeply skeptical of the future of the law and the Trump administration’s oversight of it, raised monthly premiums before open enrollment for 2018, further raising worries about the marketplaces’ stability.

Facebook posts biggest quarterly lobby tab, as business, health interests dominate K Street
Impeachment is not slowing down lobbying efforts

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in 2018. Facebook spent a record amount on lobbying this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Facebook is on pace to spend more on federal lobbying this year than ever before, according to public disclosures out this week, as the social media giant’s CEO prepares to testify Wednesday on Capitol Hill.

The company — at the center of debates over the spread of false information, data privacy and others — spent $12.3 million to lobby the federal government in the first nine months of the year. In 2018, Facebook shelled out $12.6 million for 12 months of lobbying.

Democrats could tie paychecks to testimony in impeachment inquiry
Little-used provision would deny pay to administration officials seen as stonewalling House investigators

House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, and the heads of the Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees, in an Oct 1. letter raised the possibility of senior administration officials not getting paid for any time spent stonewalling congressional investigators. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats are threatening to force Trump administration officials’ compliance with their impeachment inquiry by targeting something they hold dear: their paychecks.

Democrats have twice referenced using an obscure provision in the annual Financial Services spending bill, referred to as Section 713, that says any federal employee who “prohibits or prevents, or attempts or threatens to prohibit or prevent” another official from communicating with lawmakers shouldn’t be paid during that time.

House Dems move forward with drug pricing bill
Committee approved a new plan that would limit drug prices — a top priority for the party

Rep. Pramila Jayapal speaks with reporters in June. The Washington Democrat proposed an amendment during a markup of a bill designed to limit drug prices Thursday.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A House committee on Thursday approved a Democratic bill designed to limit drug prices, a top priority for the party, as another panel’s debate on the measure was poised to last for hours.

House leaders produced the 141-page bill after months of deliberations among various party factions, as progressives urged their colleagues to be bold despite GOP criticisms that the measure could hamper research into future cures. The bill, numbered HR 3, includes requirements for the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate Medicare prices for the most expensive drugs, with commercial health plans also having the option of adopting those prices.

Democrats bow to critics, expand scope of drug price bill
The changes by House Democratic leaders were made to appease progressives who pushed for more aggressive action

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., points to sign that reads “lower drug costs now” as she departs from a press conference at the Capitol in Washington on September 19, 2019. Democratic leaders unveiled changes to Pelosi’s drug pricing bill ahead of markups Thursday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

House Democratic leaders unveiled changes to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s drug pricing bill ahead of markups Thursday, seeking to appease progressives who pushed for more aggressive action.

The chamber is expected to vote on the bill this month.

Scope of drug pricing bill could thwart Democrats’ hope for political win
Patients raise concerns that legislation impacts limited number of medicines

Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill on Oct. 2, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats are betting their legislation to lower drug prices will be a political winner — but some patients learning the details are skeptical it will help them.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said in late September that her signature drug pricing bill received “rave reviews from everyone but the pharmaceutical industry.” And lawmakers tried to tout the bill during the October recess. Two House committees will markup the measure on Thursday.

Federal health officials propose loosening anti-kickback laws
Both proposals will have a 75-day comment period after they are published in the Federal Register

Supporters hold up Save Medicaid signs in September of 2017. The Trump administration on Wednesday unveiled plans to loosen two anti-corruption laws for doctors. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration on Wednesday unveiled plans to loosen two anti-corruption laws for doctors, in a bid to promote new ways of delivering coordinated health care while attempting to preserve the laws’ core aim of combating fraud and abuse.

Physician groups have long sought changes to the anti-kickback law and the Stark self-referral law, saying the cumbersome rules impede the close provider relationships necessary to pay for health outcomes rather than the volume of services. The laws restrict doctors from accepting payments that induce business under Medicare and from referring patients to other businesses in which they have a financial interest, respectively.

Trump aide calls drug price deal possible if impeachment fades
The aide said Democrats were making it harder to achieve the goal while being “distracted” by impeachment

Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy Joe Grogan sits to the left of President Donald Trump in the Cabinet Room at the White House on April 04, 2019. White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council Executive Director Scott Turner sits to Trump’s right. On Monday Grogan said the White House could strike a deal with Democrats on drug prices if the impeachment inquiry ultimately doesn't go anywhere. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump’s top domestic policy adviser on Monday predicted that the White House could strike a deal with House Democrats on drug prices — if the impeachment inquiry into the president ultimately doesn’t go anywhere.

Domestic Policy Council Director Joe Grogan said House Democrats deserve credit for proposing a drug price bill, which he called ambitious. He said he met last week with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s health care adviser, Wendell Primus, as well as House committee staff, and the two sides had a “great” conversation about the legislation.

Freshman Democrat: Party must do better job selling health care during impeachment
But Pennsylvania Rep. Susan Wild gets no questions on drug prices at town hall

Rep. Susan Wild, D-PA., holds a town hall meeting at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa. on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Democrats have more work to do to show voters the House is trying to lower drug prices and protect coverage for pre-existing conditions even while it pursues possible impeachment, freshman Rep. Susan Wild told constituents at a town hall meeting Wednesday.

Wild and Democrats like her helped flip control of the House by winning Republican-held seats last year with campaigns focused on health care. She wants to do the same in 2020, but found herself having to try to fit answers about health care into questions about impeachment and other issues at the 90-minute event at Muhlenberg College.

Trump executive order to focus on modernizing Medicare
Rulemaking designed to contrast with Democrats’ ‘Medicare for All’

Executive order is expected to focus on increasing Medicare access to telehealth and innovative therapies. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An executive order President Donald Trump will sign this afternoon will focus on modernizing Medicare by increasing access to telehealth and innovative therapies, according to senior officials.

The administration is also positioning the order as a contrast to Democratic presidential candidates campaigning on “Medicare for All” government-run health care, in part by strengthening private insurance plans that operate as part of the giant health program for seniors under the Medicare Advantage system. Seniors are a major voting bloc and health care is a significant part of the 2020 presidential campaign.