Medicaid

Democrats Push Back on Plan to Make Green Cards Harder to Obtain
Public health advocates, others warn about effects of ‘public charge’ crackdown

Rep. Nanette Barragán, D-Calif., pictured here, joined with Sen. Kamala Harris and public health officials in pushing back against a proposal to make it harder for people who utilize public assistance to obtain green cards. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic lawmakers are joining local health officials, community organizers and immigrant rights groups around the country in opposition to a Trump administration regulatory proposal that would make it harder for foreign nationals to obtain green cards if they have received government assistance.

Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Nanette Barragán, both California Democrats, said in a public comment submitted to the Homeland Security Department that the proposed regulation would represent “another misguided step in advancing this administration’s cruel, anti-immigrant agenda.”

Supreme Court Will Not Hear Planned Parenthood Defunding Appeal
Two conservative justices — Roberts and Kavanaugh — side with liberal colleagues

Supporters and opponents of abortion rights demonstrate outside the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal by two states that want to cut Medicaid funds from providers like Planned Parenthood, keeping in place lower court opinions that anti-abortion advocates oppose.

The states, Kansas and Louisiana, argued that Medicaid does not allow individual patients to sue if state officials refuse to cover a provider’s non-abortion services because the provider sometimes separately performs abortions.

Rick Scott Spent Record $64 Million of His Own Money in Florida Senate Race
GOP senator-elect made fortune as health care executive

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), spent nearly $65 million of his own money on his Senate campaign. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Florida Gov. Rick Scott will become the most junior member of the Senate next month after the 116th Congress is sworn in after defeating three-term Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. But that victory won without a steep price tag.

Scott spent a record $63.6 million of his own money on his campaign to oust Nelson and turn the Florida Senate delegation all red, according to his most recent Federal Elections Commission report.

Care With a Side of Comfort Promises Big Savings in Health Costs
Experiments targeting housing, transportation, food and other nonmedical services are flourishing

Circle the City’s respite program provides health assessments, physical therapy and other care for homeless patients. (Courtesy Circle the City)

As state and federal officials increasingly search for ways to curb rising health care costs, a decades-old idea is gaining traction: helping people with challenges that have nothing to do with medical care but everything to do with their health.

Insurers are taking steps as simple as paying for hot meal deliveries and outreach to homebound people and replacing air filters in homes with asthmatic children. More radical approaches include building affordable housing for people who don’t have a stable home of their own.

Choosing a Health Plan Should Not Be Like Playing ‘Battleship’
CMS should issue guidance to expand benefits and inform older Americans

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services should revise its guidance for 2020 to allow broader coverage of nonmedical services for seniors with multiple chronic conditions, Hayes writes. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

OPINION — Three in four Americans over 65 live with multiple chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and asthma, and the cost of providing their care is rapidly increasing.

Beginning in January, Medicare Advantage, or MA, Medicare’s managed care plans, will offer some relief by providing health-related supplemental benefits to beneficiaries with chronic conditions. Some plans will offer new benefits such as smoking cessation programs, in-home personal assistance, caregiver support and adult daycare. But that’s not enough.

Insurance Marketplace Sign-Ups Lag After Year of Changes
Fewer people are enrolling than last year, according to CMS

Overall health insurance enrollment on the federal exchange is down roughly 11 percent compared to this point last year. Above, Isabel Diaz Tinoco and Jose Luis Tinoco weigh different plans at the Mall of the Americas in Miami last year. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

Enrollment in the insurance plans offered under the 2010 health care law appears to be lagging heading into the final stretch of the sign-up period.

Overall enrollment is down roughly 11 percent compared to this point last year, suggesting the final federal exchange numbers may end up lower than last year.

Pro-Choice Caucus Preps for Democratic Majority
Members hope to push back on abortion

Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., leads the Pro-Choice Caucus with Barbara Lee, D-Calif. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An influential House caucus hopes to use the Democrats’ majority next year to counteract Republican efforts to restrict abortion and family planning, although the group still faces an uphill battle against a Republican Senate and administration with strong ties to the anti-abortion lobby.

The Pro-Choice Caucus has been recently overshadowed by its conservative rival, the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, which counts Republican leadership and lawmakers from the influential Freedom Caucus among its members.

Rep. Ralph Abraham Tiptoes Closer to Louisiana Governor Run
Republican primary might include Sen. John Kennedy too

Democrats have characterized the gubernatorial ambitions of Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-La., as a way to “quit” the House given Republicans will soon be the minority party in the lower chamber. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Louisiana Rep. Ralph Abraham signaled he will likely run for governor next year but stopped short of fully committing to the race.

“If I had to make a decision today, it would be that I was running,” the 5th District Republican said in an interview with the Monroe News Star, pledging to make a final decision by Jan. 1. “The focus always needs to be how Louisiana can be a better place and we just aren’t getting there with the current governor.”

Grassley’s Move to Finance Committee Could Bolster Drug Price Efforts
Advocates anticipate bipartisan cooperation on lower prices

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, is expected to be the next chairman of the Finance Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Charles E. Grassley’s return to the helm of the Finance Committee could put him in a position to address high prescription prices, although former aides say his biggest initial contribution to the drug debate will be his zeal for accountability.

Mark Hayes, a former Finance chief health counsel under Grassley, said the Iowa Republican’s well-earned reputation for oversight can be a catalyst for action.

On Health Care, Dems Go From Running to Baby Steps
Incremental measures will dominate action on the health law in a largely gridlocked Congress

House Democrats plan to bring administration officials to Capitol Hill to explain what critics call “sabotage” of the law’s insurance exchanges. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The midterm elections all but ended the Republican push to repeal the 2010 law known as Obamacare, but as a defining issue for Democrats in their takeover of the House, health care will likely remain near the top of lawmakers’ policy and political agenda.

Newly emboldened Democrats are expected to not only push legislation through the House, but use their majority control of key committees to press Trump administration officials on the implementation of the health law, Medicaid work requirements, and insurance that does not have to comply with Obamacare rules.