Health Care

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.

The Huntington to Hollywood Heroin(e) Connection
Political Theater, Episode 7

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and his guest Jan Rader, Fire Chief of Huntington, W.Va., before last month’s State of the Union address. Rader, subject of an Academy Award-nominated documentary, will be in Hollywood next month for the Oscars ceremony (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Welcome back to Political Theater, Roll Call’s newsletter and podcast on the spectacle of politics and how it fits, or doesn’t, into the nation’s culture. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

Fire Chief Jan Rader has had quite a few months. The first woman to head up Huntington, W.Va.’s fire department, Rader and two other women from her community on the front lines of responding to the opioid epidemic — drug court judge Patricia Keller and Necia Freeman of Brown Bag Ministry — became the subjects of filmmaker Elaine McMillion’s documentary “Heroin(e).”

Podcast: Meet Jan Rader, West Virginia Heroin(e) in the Opioid Fight
Political Theater, Episode 7

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and his guest Jan Rader, Fire Chief of Huntington, W.Va., are seen before President Donald Trump's State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the House chamber on January 30, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Among the stars at next month’s Oscars will be Huntington Fire Chief Jan Rader, one of the subjects of the Academy Award-nominated documentary “Heroin(e)”.

She’s a first responder on the front lines of the opioid crisis, and she’s taken her message on the issue not just to the screen, but also to Capitol Hill as the guest of Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., during the State of the Union.

House Passes Bill Critics Say Would Undermine Disability Rights
U.S. Capitol Police remove people in wheelchairs from the gallery

Harriotte Ranvig, 71, of Somerville Mass., is escorted out of the House chamber on February 15, 2018, after she and a group of protesters disrupted the vote on The ADA Education and Reform Act on which makes it harder for disabled people to sue for discrimination. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House on Thursday passed, 225-192, a bill that supporters say would deter predatory lawsuits filed under a landmark disability rights law, over objections from its critics that the bill would undermine decades of progress for access to places like restaurants, theaters and other private establishments.

The bill would require potential plaintiffs to notify businesses who aren’t in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act before filing a lawsuit. As originally written, it would give the businesses six months to demonstrate their intent to comply, but an amendment adopted on Thursday shortened that timeline to four months.

Opinion: America Doesn’t Care How the Sausage Is Made
Both parties need to outline the outcomes of their policies first

Speaker Paul D. Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy at a news conference in March 2017. It was easy for Republicans to call for repealing the 2010 health care law, but defining its replacement and the outcomes it would deliver was harder, Winston writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Process rather than outcome has become the new definition of governing in D.C. and that’s not good for America.

The inside story of how a controversial bill is passed or a presidential decision is reached has historical value. But when day-to-day political discourse thrives on gossipy renditions of process as we see now rather than focusing on the outcomes these actions will deliver, a disillusioned electorate is the unfortunate consequence.

Democrats Pan Bill Curbing Lawsuits by People With Disabilities
As ADA-related bill consideration gets under way, protest erupts in Rules Committee

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., who was a sponsor of the landmark American Disabilities Act in 1990, says new legislation being considered by the House would seriously undermine incentives for businesses to comply with the longstanding law. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic leaders are actively opposing a bill scheduled for a vote in the House later this week that they say would undermine a landmark law providing protections for Americans with disabilities.

The bill would make it harder for disabled individuals claiming discrimination in places such as hotels, restaurants or private schools from filing suit against the business under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

McCaul and 10-Year-Old Cancer Survivor Push Legislation
Texas Republican says Sadie Keller is the best advocate for his childhood cancer bills

Rep. Michael McCaul said when Sadie Keller first came to Capitol Hill, “she was in remission on a mission.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

When Rep. Michael McCaul was in grade school, he lost his best friend to cancer. It has always affected him, especially when he meets with constituents whose children are sick.

And then three years ago, he met an inspiring new friend.

Opinion: Acting on Opioids Is Easy. Recovery Is Hard
It’s time to save lives and take on the deadly opioid epidemic

Republicans and Democrats in Congress agree on the need to address the deadly opioid epidemic, Rep. Paul  D. Tonko, D-N.Y., writes. (John Moore/Getty Images file photo)

During his State of the Union Address last week, President Donald Trump repeated a promise that he has made many times: America is finally going to do something about its opioid epidemic. The issue could not be more pressing.

We are in the midst of a national public health crisis that cut short 64,000 lives in 2016 alone, a 21 percent increase in overdose deaths over the previous year. Given the devastating urgency of this issue, I want to believe that our president has not forgotten the tragedy of those lost and the pain of the loved ones they leave behind. But he has made similar promises in the past, nearly all of them abandoned and broken.

Trump Lashes Out, Alleges Schiff ‘Illegally’ Leaks Classified Info
President acknowledges morning ‘Fox & Friends’ habit after harsh SNL skit

President Donald Trump speaks to the media before departing the White House on Marine One in December. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

Updated at 10:14 a.m. | President Donald Trump on Monday lashed out at House Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam B. Schiff, tweeting the California Democrat is “one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington.”

The volley came three days after Schiff slammed Trump for releasing a memo compiled by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes and his staff that alleged misconduct by senior law enforcement officials early in the Russia election meddling probe.

2018 Republican Agenda Not What Lawmakers Envisioned
Plan for the year ahead coming out of GOP retreat is leaner than Republicans had hoped

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., right, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arrive for a news conference at the media center during the House and Senate Republican retreat at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The 2018 Republican legislative agenda is on a diet.

As House and Senate GOP lawmakers huddled at a West Virginia resort Wednesday through Friday for their annual retreat, they discussed a handful of legislative items they would like to tackle this year, including defense, infrastructure, workforce development and the budget process.

More States Jump on Medicaid Work Requirements Bandwagon

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, has signaled openness to approving work requirements for Medicaid. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A growing number of mostly Republican-led states are rushing to follow Kentucky’s lead in requiring thousands of people on Medicaid to work or lose health coverage.

The governors of South Dakota, Alabama, Louisiana and South Carolina have said in recent weeks that they plan to pursue work requirements for their Medicaid programs, following the Trump administration’s release of guidelines for the concept in January.

Renewed Scrutiny for Cotton’s Cease-And-Desist Letters to Constituents
Arkansas man says he was threatened with letter in June for using an expletive

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton has been criticized for his office’s practice of sending cease and desist letters to some constituents who call in. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton’s office is under the First Amendment microscope again for its practice of sending cease-and-desist letters to constituents who call in and use coarse language.

Arkansan Don Ernst said he was threatened with a cease-and-desist letter after he called Cotton’s office 17 times last year from January to June asking about the senator’s response to the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, and how Cotton would deal with the opioid crisis if the 2010 health care law was repealed, Ernst revealed on a The Sexy Pundits podcast Sunday.

Opinion: Trump’s Brigadoon Moment — A Speech That Will Soon Vanish Into the Mist
#NeverTrump Republicans might have been dreaming about State of the Union might-have-beens

President Donald Trump speaks with members of Congress as he leaves the House chamber after delivering his first State of the Union address Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Squint your eyes and imagine that a mainstream Republican (Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio or John Kasich) had somehow made it through the gauntlet of Donald Trump’s insults to win the GOP nomination and defeat Hillary Clinton. That mythical Republican president (Jeb John Rubio) might have given a State of the Union address with eerie similarities to Trump’s maiden effort.

President Rubio (or informally Jeb John) would have undoubtedly bragged about the buoyant economy.

What We Learned From Trump’s State of the Union
President doesn’t take the unifying route, promising a rough ride ahead

President Donald Trump takes a selfie with Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., in the House chamber after his State of the Union address on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday was a victory lap on his economic program, but not the unifying speech that his aides had promised ahead of time, political analysts said.

Some saw it as Trump trying to reassure his base and said his style in delivering it was more optimistic, though it was short on specific policy points.

State of the Union Latest Marching Order for Marc Short
Legislative affairs director is ultimate utility player for Team Trump

Marc Short, White House legislative affairs director, talks with reporters in the Capitol on Nov. 13. He has become an unlikely messenger for President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

For Marc Short, the work began in earnest the moment President Donald Trump wrapped up his first official State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

Short, the White House legislative affairs director, played a role in crafting the president’s speech. But he told Roll Call in an interview on Monday that the work of crafting, editing and re-crafting the address fell to a team led by Stephen Miller, Trump’s top domestic policy adviser.