Bill Cassidy

Primary care changes could be part of Senate effort to lower health care costs
A committee discussed ideas including provider incentives to buy drugs directly from wholesalers, and encouraging employers to offer on-site clinics

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., right, and Tina Smith, D-Minn., talk with attendees of the a Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Sept. 25, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Tuesday highlighted changes to primary care coverage that could be part of a Senate effort to lower health care costs this year.

Those ideas include incentives for providers to buy drugs directly from wholesalers, expanding which services qualify for health savings account purchases, encouraging employers to offer on-site clinics to workers, and clarifying how direct primary care programs can help physicians reduce time spent on administrative tasks.

FEMA Relents on Flood Insurance
Sales of new policies will be allowed during partial shutdown

Sen. Bill Cassidy was among several Republican lawmakers who urged FEMA to reverse its decision not to allow the sale of  flood insurance policies during the partial shutdown. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency reversed course late Friday and said it would allow sales of new flood insurance policies during the partial government shutdown.

“As of this evening, all [National Flood Insurance Program] insurers have been directed to resume normal operations immediately and advised that the program will be considered operational since December 21, 2018 without interruption,” FEMA said in a press release.

Photos of the Week: Freshman Lottery, a Christmas Tree and Capitol Moving
The week of Nov. 26 as captured by Roll Call's photographers

Rep.-elect Lucy McBath, D-Ga., does a dance after drawing No. 18 during the new member room lottery draw for office space in Rayburn Building on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House new member orientation continued this week as the Capitol community prepares for the holidays and the inevitable switching of offices that happens before each new Congress.

Paid Family Leave Could Make It To Next Congress After Midterm Boost
Elections have seen unprecedented push for paid leave

Vangie Williams, the Democratic nominee for Virginia’s 1st District and a mother of six, says her support for paid family leave comes from her experience balancing work while caring for a sick daughter and returning to work shortly after childbirth. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Vangie Williams, a mother of six, was facing foreclosure and a pile of medical bills for her 2-year-old daughter’s rare lung condition when she wrote to her congressman. She wanted help. But she got a form letter, she recalled.

The experience was one of many that convinced the Virginia Democrat several years later to challenge 1st District Republican Rep. Rob Wittman on a platform that includes paid leave so families caring for sick relatives can avoid some of the impossible financial decisions that she faced.  She and her husband ended up tapping out their retirement accounts and losing their home, she said. 

EPA Proposal Would End Summer Ban on Ethanol Motor Fuel — With the Midterms Just a Month Away
Some corn state Republicans facing tough re-election bids

The Environmental Protection Agency will propose an end to the summer ban on motor fuel made with ethanol according to a senior White House official. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The EPA will propose to end the summer ban on the sale of motor fuel made with 15 percent ethanol, according to a senior White House official.

The move is sure to please corn state lawmakers such as Iowa Republican Sens. Charles E. Grassley and Joni Ernst, who have spent the better part of the last year and a half pushing the Trump administration to do more to enforce requirements under the so-called Renewable Fuel Standard — a federal mandate to boost renewable fuels like ethanol in the nation’s gasoline mix.

Louisianans in Congress Celebrate Drew Brees’ Record-Breaking Night
New Orleans Saints quarterback breaks NFL career passing yards record

Framed New Orleans Saints and Louisiana State University jerseys hang on the wall of Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise, a big Drew Brees fan. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees set a National Football League record on Monday night for career passing yards, and Louisianans in Congress were celebrating with him.

Brees broke retired Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning’s record of 71,940 yards in the second quarter on a 62-yard touchdown pass.

Here Are the Senators Attending John McCain’s Funeral
List includes 14 Republicans and 10 Democrats

At least 24 senators will attend the funeral service Thursday of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in Phoenix. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

At least 24 current U.S. senators will attend Sen. John McCain’s memorial service Thursday in Phoenix, his office said.

The service, which will begin at approximately 10 a.m. local time, follows a procession from the Arizona state Capitol, where visitors on Wednesday could observe McCain’s casket draped in the American flag.

As Dems Campaign on Pre-Existing Conditions, 10 Republicans Move In
Tillis touts ‘common-sense’ solution, Murray calls it a ‘gimmick’

As the 2010 health care law weathers its latest legal challenge, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., has introduced a bill aimed at pre-existing conditions. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Ten Senate Republicans on Friday released a bill meant to guarantee the protections for patients with pre-existing conditions included in the 2010 health care law.

The measure is a response to the latest legal challenge to the health law, which seeks to invalidate the law after Congress effectively ended the so-called “individual mandate” that requires most Americans to maintain health insurance coverage or pay a fine.

Republicans Won’t Probe Influence of Trump Friends at Veterans Department
Dems have questions about trio named in lawsuit

Veterans Affairs Chairman Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., speaks during a hearing of Veterans Affairs secretary nominee Robert Wilkie in front of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building Wednesday June 27, 2018. (Photo By Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 3:31 p.m. | Top Republican lawmakers have no plans to examine the alleged influence that a trio of President Donald Trump’s friends have at the Department of Veterans Affairs, even as Democrats call for an investigation.

The controversy peaked in recent weeks after reports that Marvel Entertainment Chairman Ike Perlmutter, Palm Beach doctor Bruce Moskowitz and D.C. lawyer Marc Sherman hold undue sway with VA leadership, including senior adviser Peter O’Rourke, who formerly served as acting secretary. Liberal veterans group VoteVets filed a lawsuit against the administration last week, claiming the VA is violating federal protocol related to private influence in matters of federal policy.

Lawmakers Scramble to Extend Flood Insurance Before Hurricane Season Peaks
Unless they act by July 31, parts of the program will lapse

Rep. Ed Royce, shown here in May, introduced a bill Tuesday with Earl Blumenauer that would extend flood insurance coverage for four additional months. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House, facing a July 31 deadline to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program, is considering legislation to extend it through Nov. 30 as the House and Senate try to resolve big differences in their proposals for the program.

Reps. Ed Royce, a California Republican, and Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, introduced a bill Tuesday that would extend flood insurance coverage for the program’s 5 million policyholders for four additional months.