Medicare

Opinion: Trump’s Drug Pricing Plan Is Practical, but Is It Enough?
Administration’s blueprint aims to force drug companies to be more transparent

Opponents call President Donald Trump’s plan a win for pharmaceutical companies because it doesn’t ask Medicare to negotiate prices for Part B and D drugs, Wilensky writes. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

A husband visits a local pharmacy to fill his ailing wife’s monthly asthma prescription, which costs $110. What he doesn’t know — and what his pharmacist can’t tell him — is that her Part D insurance plan isn’t helping to reduce the cost. In fact, it’s only hurting. They could have saved $35 by paying out-of-pocket.

That’s the kind of problem President Donald Trump aims to solve with his new drug price plan. The blueprint he released earlier this month is practical, focused squarely on executive actions that will force drug companies toward greater transparency. But will the White House’s pragmatism be enough?

Opinion: Rethinking Social Security Numbers in the Modern Age
Traditional safeguards are no longer enough

Americans are at greater risk when it comes to having their Social Security number stolen — and traditional safeguards are not enough, writes Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas.  (iStock)

Did you know that last fall at least 145.5 million Americans’ Social Security numbers were stolen in a data breach at Equifax? Worse, this was just one in a series of recent breaches — don’t forget Anthem and the Office of Personnel Management, just to name others.

In this technological age, folks are at greater risk when it comes to having their Social Security number stolen — even if they do everything right. That’s because keeping your number a secret, leaving your Social Security card in a safe, and shredding all documents containing your number are now antiquated efforts for stopping the modern hacker.

4 Things to Watch During Tuesday’s Primary Elections
Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Idaho and Oregon will be hosting primaries

Voters head to the polls for primary elections in four states. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Four states will host primary elections Tuesday, setting up matchups for several key races this fall. 

Pennsylvania, Idaho and Nebraska all have House primaries to watch. And the Keystone State’s new congressional lines will be tested for the first time. The state’s Supreme Court tossed out the old map earlier this year, deeming it an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. 

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.

Questions Surround ‘America First’ Plan on Overseas Drug Prices
Trump calls overseas costs unfair compared to U.S.

President Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a campaign rally on May 10 in Elkhart, Indiana. The crowd filled the 7,500-person-capacity gymnasium. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump took aim at “global freeloading” in his Friday speech on drug prices, putting an “America First” angle on a complicated policy issue. Although Trump’s rhetoric in the speech was fairly tough on the pharmaceutical industry, this issue was one area where Trump was borrowing a page from the Big Pharma playbook.

For all the resonance this part of the drug pricing debate might have with Trump and his political supporters, the administration’s accompanying policy blueprint had few details on how to address what other countries pay for prescription drugs. Questions remain over whether higher prices overseas would translate into lower prices in the United States.

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.

Former Rep. Brad Ashford Faces Primary in Comeback Bid
Democratic primary pits Ashford against a political newcomer

Nebraska Democratic Rep. Brad Ashford, who lost re-election in 2016 after serving one term, is seeking a comeback this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

On the surface, the Democratic primary in Nebraska’s 2nd District had the makings of a bitter intraparty battle, with a moderate onetime congressman facing off against a liberal, female political newcomer. 

But the contest between former Rep. Brad Ashford and nonprofit CEO Kara Eastman hasn’t gotten the same attention as some other primaries that have morphed into proxy fights for the soul of the Democratic Party.

Six Months Out: The 10 Most Vulnerable Senators in 2018
Nevada Republican Dean Heller remains in top spot

Sen. Dean Heller is the only Republican running for re-election in a state Hillary Clinton won in 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Democrats are still defending 10 states that President Donald Trump won in 2016, but six months out from Election Day, the most vulnerable senator remains a Republican.

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller no longer faces a primary threat, but he’s the only Republican up for re-election in a state Hillary Clinton won, and in this national environment that’s a tricky place to be.

Republicans Warming to $15 Billion Cuts Package
Dispute remains over whether proposal is protected from filibuster

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not rule out his chamber considering a proposal to cut spending already authorized, as long as it passes the House. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans appear ready to advance the White House’s $15.4 billion rescissions request through both chambers of Congress, after the administration dropped the idea — for now — of canceling funds provided in the fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill enacted in March.

“If the House is able to pass the rescissions package, we’ll take a look at it,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday, noting that the so-called special message “does not breach the bipartisan agreement we reached in the caps deal.”

Partisan Fight Over $15 Billion Rescissions Package Developing
Democrats not ready to play ball, Pelosi suggests

President Donald Trump begrudgingly signed the omnibus spending bill in March. Now his administration is making a $15 billion rescissions request. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

The Trump administration on Monday outlined a roughly $15 billion “rescissions” request it plans to send to Congress on Tuesday, targeting unspent health care and green energy funds for the largest share of the cuts.

The bulk of that request proposes eliminating $7 billion in budget authority from the Children’s Health Insurance Program — $5 billion from fiscal 2017, for which there is no authority to spend the money, and $2 billion from a contingency fund for states that the White House doesn’t expect any states to draw from, a senior administration official said.