Human Services

Shalala Criticized for Skipping Debate
Frontrunner in race for Ros-Lehtinen’s seat said she told organizers she had prior obligations

Donna Shalala said “There will be lots of time to debate” after she didn’t attend one between Democratic candidates for retiring Rep. Ilean Ros-Lehtinen’s seat on Tuesday. (Aaron Davidson/Getty Images file photo)

Some Democrats in Florida’s 27th District criticized frontrunner Donna Shalala for disrespecting organizers of a debate by skipping it on Tuesday.

Shalala defended her decision not to attend, the Miami Herald reported, saying, “There will be lots of time to debate.”

Health Officials Hit Back at Critics of Trump’s Drug Price Plan
As Democrats say the president’s plan is weak, Azar calls it a ”fundamental potential restructuring” of the American economy

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, shown here at the White House last week, defended the president’s drug plan on Monday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Top administration health officials on Monday defended President Donald Trump’s plan to address high prescription drug prices, which has drawn criticism from both the industry and those who see it as a capitulation to drug companies.

In a speech Monday in the foyer of the Health and Human Services Department, Secretary Alex Azar, a former pharmaceutical company executive, took direct aim at the industry. He said drug companies were offering the American people a false choice between the development of life-saving innovations and affordability.

Trump Targets Drug Pricing in Trade Agreements
‘It’s unfair, it’s ridiculous and it’s not going to happen any longer’

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar testifies during a Ways and Means Committee hearing on the FY2019 budget for HHS in Longworth Building on February 14, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump has instructed trade ambassador Robert Lighthizer to grant the drug industry’s wish of making pharmaceutical prices a “top priority” in negotiations with other countries.

Trump revealed the instruction during a Friday announcement unveiling the administration’s overall strategy for lowering drug costs.

4 of Congress’ Recent Anti-Abortion Actions, After Iowa Passes Measure
A look at Hill action after Iowa legislation passes both state chambers

Guests bow their heads in prayer near the Washington Monument during the annual March for Life on Jan. 27, 2017. Attendees march from the monument to Capitol Hill to oppose abortion. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Iowa state legislature this week passed a bill banning abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, one of the stricter regulations in the U.S. should the governor sign the bill into law.Dubbed the “heartbeat bill,” the legislation aims to block abortions once a heartbeat is detected, which would essentially ban the procedure for most cases after a month and a half.More lawmakers across the United States started introducing anti-abortion legislation following President Donald Trump’s election. Nineteen states instated 63 restrictions in total to abortion procedures in 2017, the highest number of state laws on the issue since 2013, according to sexual and reproductive health research organization the Guttmacher Institute.States have successfully put more roadblocks in front of abortion, but federal lawmakers have not had such luck. Here are some recent attempts by Congress to limit abortions:

The Senate rejected a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in January after the bill passed the House in 2017.The “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham, failed to overcome a Democrat filibuster“To those who believe in this issue, we will be back for another day,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and the chief sponsor of the bill, said in advance of the vote according to the New York Times.

Special, Special, Special Elections
Gearing up for the midterms amid one special election after another

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Drug Pricing Proposal Should Revamp Medicare, GOP Experts Say
Overhauling Part B drug benefit could have “massive impact overnight”

HHS Secretary Alex Azar has been outspoken in seeking to carry out the president’s push to reduce drug costs. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An upcoming Trump administration proposal on lowering drug costs should ask Congress to allow private insurance companies to negotiate prices for drugs administered in a doctor’s office or hospital, two Republican policy experts said.

The administration’s proposal is a request for comment on strategies to lower drug prices and out-of-pocket costs. It was originally expected to be released in tandem with a speech by President Donald Trump on Thursday, but the speech was delayed as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar recovers from an infection.

Committees Tackle Politically Powerful Issue of Opioids Legislation
Senate HELP panel advanced bipartisan package Tuesday

Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, chairs the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, which will consider over 60 bills to address the opioids crisis at a Wednesday markup. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House heads into a marathon opioid markup Wednesday, a day after the Senate health committee approved bipartisan legislation of its own addressing the crisis. Both chambers are eager to advance bills to combat the crisis under an aggressive timeline, with an eye toward demonstrating action before the midterms on an issue that affects voters representing most demographics and districts.

“Even though this epidemic is worse in some parts of the country than others, find me a congressional district where this isn’t an issue,” said Keith Humphreys, a drug policy expert at Stanford. “Absolutely, they do not want to go into an election and have their constituents mad at them.”

Roy Blunt: Playing the Inside Game and Scoring
Missouri’s GOP senator is proof the popular outsider play isn’t the only winning route

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., regained the chairmanship of the Rules and Administration Committee last week.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In a political world where running against Washington has become one of the easiest paths to getting there, and where the ultimate outsider neophyte is president, Roy Blunt stands out as proof that the opposite approach sometimes still works.

Few in today’s Congress have succeeded as well, and for as long, at the inside game — where influence is cultivated and sustained by combining broad political and policy expertise along with deep interpersonal skill.

Nathan’s (Mostly) Political One-Liners: Florida, Curious George, and the NFL
What’s running through my head on Thursday, April 12

From left, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Chief Deputy Whip Patrick T. McHenry, R-N.C., and Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., arrive in the basement of the Capitol on Wednesday as reports of Speaker Paul D. Ryan not running for re-election spread. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Arizona’s 8th District Special: Welcome to the big leagues, Democrat Hiral Tipirneni, who we’re learning hasn’t treated patients since 2011 and settled a malpractice lawsuit.

Baseball Movies: It’s still hard to believe Aaron Sorkin made “Moneyball” into a watchable movie.

Medicaid Work Debate Gets a Tennessee Twist
Federal government would need to sign off on state proposal

Tennessee has proposed using federal dollars from the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to pay for its Medicaid work mandate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A growing number of mostly Republican-led states are itching to create work requirements for people on Medicaid, but finding a way to pay for it could prove challenging.

In Tennessee, lawmakers want to add a Medicaid work mandate, but only if they can use federal — not state — dollars to make it happen. And they think there may be a way to do just that.