On Capitol Hill: Medicare For All; Lowering Health Care Costs; Maternal Mortality Rates; And More
Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the expected incoming House Ways and Means chairman, signaled his willingness to hold hearings on "Medicare for all," a popular priority for many progressive lawmakers in the party. Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, health care costs are in the spotlight, as well as a bill aimed at reversing the country's maternal mortality rates.
Incoming Dem Chairman Open To Hearing On 'Medicare For All'
The incoming chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), said Tuesday that he is open to holding hearings on "Medicare for all" next year. ... The comments, while not a firm commitment, are some of the most encouraging toward Medicare for all supporters from a top House Democrat to date. Democratic leaders and key committee chairmen have so far not given support to Medicare for all, despite a push from the progressive wing of the party. (Sullivan, 12/11)
How Can We Lower Healthcare Costs? Key GOP Senator Seeks Ideas
Senate health committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) plans to have his panel next year work on legislation to address high healthcare costs. On Tuesday, the senator asked hospitals, insurers, patient groups, state regulators and think tanks to submit proposals for solutions by March 1, 2019. He sent a letter to the Brookings Institution, American Enterprise Institute and others he wants to hear from. (Luthi, 12/11)
Alexander Seeks Proposals For Health Costs Legislation
Alexander said he is also seeking input from the health care industry and state officials who handle health issues, which could help shape legislation next year. In the letter, Alexander asked AEI’s James Capretta and the Brookings Institution’s Paul Ginsburg to suggest specific ways Congress could “lower health care costs, incentivize care that improves the health and outcomes of patients, and increase the ability for patients to access information about their care to make informed decisions,” as well as how those would work and what Congress or the administration needs to do to implement such steps. He also asked about what shortcomings such steps could have, and why it may be worthwhile to implement them, anyway. (McIntire, 12/11)
House Passes Bipartisan Bill Aimed At Reversing Rising Maternal Mortality Rates
The House on Tuesday passed a bipartisan bill aimed at reversing the maternal mortality crisis in the U.S. in what supporters say is the strongest action yet that Congress has taken on the issue. The bill from Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) would support state-level efforts to track and investigate pregnancy-related deaths, and then look for ways to prevent future deaths from occurring. (Hellmann, 12/11)
Congress Likely To Revive Earmarks, Signaling A Boon For Hospitals
A Democratic House leader on Tuesday predicted Congress will bring back earmarks early next year, raising the prospect of a windfall in targeted funding for hospitals with not-for-profit tax designation as well as university medical centers. The policy change could be especially significant for hospitals in states that did not expand Medicaid as they look for to fill in the revenue gaps stemming from uncompensated care. HHS has traditionally scored the second-highest amount of earmarks after the Defense Department, according to a former Senate appropriations staffer who worked on Capitol Hill when earmarks were the modus operandi. (Luthi, 12/11)
Juul Tries To Make Friends In Washington As Regulators Circle
The San Francisco company that’s become synonymous with vaping — “juuling” is now a verb — has hired political hands in Washington and started a political action committee that has donated to members of Congress and state attorney-general candidates.Twenty years after four big tobacco companies reached a massive settlement with 46 states over smoking-related health problems and marketing issues — which was followed by a series of tighter restrictions and led to the rapid decline of the industry in the United States — Juul is frantically trying to avoid a similar fate. (Woellert and Owemohle, 12/7)