Human Services

These toxins last ‘forever.’ But the EPA is going slow
PFAS were used for decades to make cookware, microwave popcorn bags, carpeting, rainwear and shoes

Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency, prepares to testify before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in August. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When two officials from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality showed up at Sandy Wynn-Stelt’s Belmont, Michigan, house in July of 2017 asking to test her private water well, she didn’t anticipate trouble.

So she was stunned when they discovered incredibly high levels of a class of chemicals that are raising serious pollution and health concerns as communities around the country discover their water is contaminated with them.

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.

Democrats kick off push for Medicare drug price negotiations
The measure includes tactics to urge drugmakers to reach an agreement with Medicare on a price

Reps. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, left, and Peter Welch, D-Vt., attend a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center with House and Senate Democrats on a report which they say shows prescription drug prices have risen under President Trump on May 10, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The leader of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee on Thursday offered a proposal to require the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate prices for drugs covered by the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, is set to formally introduce the bill later Thursday with more than 100 House co-sponsors. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate backed by Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.

Family separation blasted by both parties at oversight hearing
“I think what we’re really talking about is state sponsored child abuse, and I would go as far as to say kidnapping,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky

A family member walks into the Adelanto Detention Facility on November 15, 2013 in Adelanto, California. The facility, the largest and newest Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), detention center in California, houses an average of 1,100 immigrants in custody pending a decision in their immigration cases or awaiting deportation. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Democrats on a House subcommittee demanded answers Thursday from Health and Human Services officials regarding how many children were actually separated from parents during the “zero tolerance” policy last spring at the southern border, after a report found that thousands more children could have been separated than the 2,700 previously reported.

“What’s been happening is more than irresponsible and sloppy. I think what we’re really talking about is state sponsored child abuse, and I would go as far as to say kidnapping,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., said at a hearing by the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

Trump was trying to channel Reagan. He sounded more like Nixon
You would think one of the president’s advisers would have warned him

President Donald Trump gestures to House Democrats during his State of the Union address on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION  — “The state of our union is strong.” It is the line that is prominently featured in the speech of every president when he (and so far, it’s been a he) stands before Congress for a political ritual that remains impressive. Political theater? Sure, and why not. A country without a monarch craves a little pomp now and again, no matter the partisan sniping that precedes and follows it.

But what does that statement actually mean once the booming chants of “USA, USA” — which are sounding more aggressive than affirming lately — fade?

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.”

House Democrats to put Trump’s child separation policy back under microscope
Judiciary, Homeland Security Committees announce oversight hearings for border policy

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen will appear before the House Homeland Security Committee in March. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Homeland Security Department’s policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border will be back in the spotlight during a House Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled Feb. 12.

Chairman Jerrold Nadler and fellow Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who chairs the subcommittee on immigration and citizenship, announced a lineup of witnesses Monday in a joint press release. Those scheduled to testify Feb. 12 include the chief of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and top advisers from the Justice Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Department of Health and Human Services.

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.

March for Life activists get anti-abortion boost from Trump
President: ‘I will veto any legislation that weakens pro-life federal polices’

The March for LIfe draws abortion opponents to Washington each year. Above, Jennifer Crowther of Alexandria, and her daughters Natalie and Cassidy, rally at 2017’s event. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers and anti-abortion advocates who gathered Friday for the nation’s largest annual anti-abortion rally say they are pivoting to a defensive strategy in Congress, with a focus on confirming conservative judges as legislation stalls.

Thousands of advocates gathered to protest the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion. The event featured a surprise appearance by Vice President Mike Pence with second lady Karen Pence, and a video message from President Donald Trump.

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.