Medicare

Echoes of Big Tobacco fight in Big Pharma hearings
Drug companies have leveraged high-profile hearings on rising drug prices into an opportunity

From right, Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, Merck CEO Kenneth C. Frazier, Johnson & Johnson pharmaceuticals head Jennifer Taubert, Bristol-Myers Squibb CEO Giovanni Caforio, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot, and AbbVie CEO Richard A. Gonzalez prepare to face a Feb. 26 Senate Finance hearing on rising drug prices. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congress has made curtailing high drug prices a priority this year and has hauled in some of Big Pharma’s top executives to prove it.

Committee hearings on drug prices — the House and Senate have held a half dozen this year — have sought accountability from the industry for drug prices that have forced patients into agonizing decisions about how to budget their lives and caused one-in-four diabetics to ration insulin.

First quarter drug lobbying outpaces other health care sectors
Big spending comes amid bipartisan support for legislation to lower drug prices

Health care trade groups and businesses increased their lobbying efforts during the first quarter of 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Several health care trade groups and businesses upped their lobbying expenditures in the opening stretch of 2019, with the pharmaceutical industry reporting the highest expenditures as lawmakers focus on rising drug prices.

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, which represents the pharmacy benefit managers that have emerged as a bogeyman in the drug pricing debate, more than doubled its lobbying expenditures in the first quarter of the year compared to the equivalent period in 2018. So far this year, the group has spent $1.49 million on lobbying, compared to last year’s first quarter sum of $741,557.

Fake Bernie Sanders does a mean ‘Old Town Road’
Jimmy Fallon brought some Lil Nas X to the 2020 primary on Monday night

Bernie Sanders is back for another presidential run, and so is Jimmy Fallon’s septuagenarian impersonation. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Jimmy Fallon revives his impression of everyone’s favorite septuagenarian socialist but this time throws in Lil Nas X’s viral country rap tune “Old Town Road” … and you know what, it kinda works.

The song is currently in its third straight week atop the Billboard Hot 100. And Bernie Sanders is currently atop the 2020 Democratic presidential field.

Social Security could go broke by 2035, but lawmakers have new ideas to fix it
If policymakers wait too long, solutions to fixing the program may involve politically unpalatable options

Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., leaves the Capitol after the final votes of the week on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

There’s nothing like waiting until the last minute — as long as waiting doesn’t make the problem worse.

Therein lies the conundrum facing lawmakers and 2020 presidential candidates when it comes to Social Security, which last year paid out retirement and disability benefits to some 63 million Americans.

Trump’s warning you: The socialists are coming!
Expect to see the ‘S’ word a lot in the 2020 campaign

New lawmakers like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., insist they’re not for capital “S” socialism, but for a living wage, health care for all, and affordable or free education, Patricia Murphy writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Meet “socialist,” the hardest-working word in politics in 2019. The single word has helped upstart Democrats attract young and social-curious potential voters, given the paddles of life to desperate-for-a-cause conservatives, and led President Donald Trump to an early and effective way to frame the re-election battle he wants to have with Democrats.

“Socialist” even made a usually ho-hum op-ed from a member of Congress, in this case Rep. Tom Emmer, one of Roll Call’s most read articles this week. “In their first 100 days, socialist Democrats have shown they are unable to lead.” You would read that, wouldn’t you? 

In their first 100 days, socialist Democrats have shown they are unable to lead
Nancy Pelosi’s optimism over 2020 is misplaced, NRCC chairman writes

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Emmer says the past three months have been “disastrous” for House Democrats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — After 100 days of accomplishing nothing but tax increases and bad headlines, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives boldly proclaimed her socialist Democratic caucus have the 2020 elections in the bag. Her faux confidence is misplaced; the past three months for her band of socialists were disastrous.

In the first 100 days, the socialist Democrats managed to call for over $100 trillion in new spending, but are so dysfunctional, they refuse to propose a budget outlining the payment plan for their radical agenda. Ridiculously, these socialists have spent weeks continuing to attack President Donald Trump’s budget proposal. Talk about hypocrisy.

Rep. Donald McEachin hospitalized after developing a blood clot
His hospitalization comes as he faces pressure from voters to endorse a “Medicare for All” bill

Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Va., suffered a blood clot last week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate lacks protections for LGBTQ staff. One group is demanding change
Existing laws for legislative branch workers don’t explicitly protect LGBTQ employees

A Senate staffer group is urging offices to adopt policy manuals that include protections for LGBTQ employees from discrimination. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As Congress considers expanding civil rights to encompass LGBTQ Americans, Senate staffers want their bosses to shore up such protections for the congressional workforce itself. 

In a letter sent April 8, the bipartisan Senate GLASS Caucus urged chamber offices to adopt policy manuals that include protections for LGBTQ employees from discrimination.

Mitch McConnell says Senate Republicans are ‘determined not to lose women’ in 2020
Senate majority leader talks about having GOP senators run their own campaigns

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., does not think the Senate GOP will be wiped out by suburban voters in 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republican senators on the ballot in 2020 can attract support from suburban voters, especially women, by portraying themselves as a firewall against Democratic policies. 

“We all know why it happened,” the Kentucky Republican said of the electoral shifts that enabled Democrats to win control of the House in 2018. “We got crushed in the suburbs. We lost college graduates and women in the suburbs, which led in the House to losses in suburban Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Charleston, South Carolina, Philadelphia.”

Your email address could be worth $8 to a political campaign
With emphasis on small donors, Democrats are under pressure to grow email lists

Presidential candidate and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, seen here at an Austin rally for his 2018 Senate race, has spent more than $8.6 million on Facebook ads over the last year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With Democrats up and down the ballot eschewing corporate PAC money, and the Democratic National Committee setting a grassroots fundraising threshold to get onto the presidential debate stage, connecting with small donors is more important than ever. 

Email remains one of the best ways to do that, and with the emphasis on small donors, Democratic candidates are under even more pressure to grow their distribution lists.