Medicare

House freshmen try to keep it local as presidential race steals the spotlight
Iowa Democratic Reps. Cindy Axne and Abby Finkenauer are taking similar approaches to their reelections

Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, flips pork burgers at the Iowa State Fair. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

DES MOINES — Rep. Cindy Axne’s letter to Customs and Border Protection about African swine fever didn’t make national news. But it did prompt a “thank you” from a man with the Iowa Pork Association as Axne flipped pork burgers last week at the Iowa State Fair.

Attention to issues like that disease, which could threaten the country’s pork industry if it reached the U.S., is how first-term Democratic lawmakers like Axne are working to win reelection in 2020.

Payroll tax cuts off the table? Not so fast, says Trump in another whiplash reversal
No immediate move likely on taxes, as president also distances himself from gun background checks

President Donald Trump concludes a campaign rally at the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville, Pa., May 20. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 4:15 p.m. | In yet another whiplash policy reversal, President Donald Trump directly contradicted his staff Tuesday by saying payroll tax cuts are on the table as he looks to stave off an election-year recession.

A White House official on Monday afternoon, responding to a Washington Post report that the White House was eyeing a payroll tax cut amid recession fears, dismissed the idea this way: “More tax cuts for the American people are certainly on the table, but cutting payroll taxes is not something under consideration at this time.”

Do Democrats need a backup plan?
If Biden’s stumbles continue, a certain former first lady might be well-positioned to step in

Former first lady Michelle Obama has disavowed any interest in running for president, but she may have a better chance of defeating Donald Trump than any of the Democrats currently running, Rothenberg writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — With many surveys showing multiple Democratic hopefuls leading President Donald Trump in hypothetical 2020 ballot tests, Democrats should feel confident they can deny the incumbent president a second term. But many don’t.

In spite of the huge field, the Democratic race is muddled because of questions about Joe Biden’s campaign skills, the progressive agendas of Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and the difficulty in finding a nominee who can appeal to a variety of constituencies, from the party’s base to suburban swing voters to possibly even working-class white women.

Large employers question ‘Medicare for All’ plans, survey shows
Business group poll shows concerns about costs, taxes still loom large

National Nurses United union members wave “Medicare for All” signs during a rally in Washington on April 29. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Most large employers say a “Medicare for All” system would lower the number of uninsured people in the United States, but they are concerned it could increase health care costs and taxes while stifling innovation and quality, a new survey shows.

The concerns come as health industry groups seek to block momentum for plans from Democratic presidential candidates and lawmakers to expand Medicare through a single-payer program or to allow people under age 65 to enroll in the program.

When we stop talking to each other, democracy dies in silence
Social media is valuable for our political discourse, but it‘s time to tone down the rhetoric

A protester takes photos in front of the White House at an anti-Trump rally in July 2018. The anonymity of social media and its reach are rapidly changing the country’s political environment and not for the better, Winston writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — What happens to a democracy when people stop talking to one another about what matters to them and the country?  When people are afraid to speak their minds because they fear the personal blowback likely to come their way? Or worse, when they come to believe that their concerns, their views and their values just don’t matter to anyone anymore, and so they “turn off and tune out,” to quote an old line?

What happens?  That’s when democracy dies. Not necessarily in darkness but in silence. 

Senate bill aims to protect taxpayers from costly drugs
Seeks to help Medicare control costs so premiums can remain stable

One proposed change to Medicare prescription drug benefit is to help the program control costs it absorbs to keep premiums stable. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congress this year could enact the biggest overhaul of Medicare’s prescription drug benefit since it was first established in 2003. If successful, seniors — and taxpayers — would be more insulated against the cost of the most expensive drugs. 

One proposed change is meant to help Medicare control the costs it absorbs so that the program’s premiums can remain stable despite increasing drug prices. Supporters of the drug program tout its low premiums, with the Trump administration and the private insurers who run Part D recently highlighting that average consumer premiums will fall in 2020.

‘Public charge’ rule creates Homeland spending bill headache
Amendment blocks proposed rules on immigrant access to Medicaid and food stamps

Rep. David Price, D-N.C., offered an amendment that would block the Department of Homeland Security's proposed "public charge" rule from going into effect. (File photo by Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

An amendment inserted into the House's fiscal 2020 Homeland Security spending bill by Appropriations Committee Democrats during the panel's June markup would bust the subcommittee's allocation by nearly $3.1 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Adopted on a 28-21 vote, the amendment from Reps. David E. Price of North Carolina, Pete Aguilar and Barbara Lee of California, and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin would block a number of Trump administration immigration policies, including protecting beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals from deportation and revoking Trump's travel ban against predominantly Muslim countries.

Senate bill’s drug pricing provision raises industry alarms
Provision could force drugmakers to cut patient assistance for chemotherapy drugs

A mountain of pills, tablets, gelcaps and caplets, for pain medication. (File photo by Ian Wagreich, CQ Roll Call)

A little-noticed provision of the Senate Finance Committee drug price bill is alarming some doctors, with at least one group warning it could harm patients with fragile medical conditions.

The Community Oncology Alliance, an advocacy group for cancer doctors, is raising red flags about a provision it says could prompt drugmakers to cut patient assistance for pricey chemotherapy drugs, or shortchange doctors who buy them.

Two-year budget pact clears Senate, ending fiscal 2020 impasse
President Donald Trump has said he’ll sign the measure when it lands on his desk

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, leaves the Capitol on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019, after clearing a two-year budget pact that ends a fiscal 2020 impasse. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate cleared legislation Thursday that would set topline spending levels for the next two fiscal years and suspend the debt limit through July 2021, clearing the way for appropriators to begin work two months before the new fiscal year begins.

The 67-28 Senate vote came just before lawmakers left town for the August recess and follows a 284-149 House vote last week before that chamber left town for its summer break.

Lawmakers to confront new post-spending caps reality
Will budget resolutions gain a new lease on life? Or is reinstating caps inevitable?

Some say the end of spending caps will give new life to the budget resolution, but House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth isn’t one of them. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Starting in the 117th Congress, lawmakers will face a reality they haven’t had to deal with since 2010: the absence of discretionary spending caps for the upcoming fiscal year.

After a final stretch covering the next two fiscal years, Congress will have operated under spending caps of one form or another for three decades, with the exception of a nine-year period spanning fiscal years 2003 through 2011.