Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 31, 2015

Posts in "Health Care"

August 26, 2015

Rubio: GOP Needs 60 Votes to Repeal Obamacare

Rubio held a town hall Wednesday in Londonderry. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rubio held a town hall Wednesday in Londonderry. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Marco Rubio sounds rather bearish on repealing Obamacare anytime soon, even if he or another Republican becomes president.

Outlining his economic and foreign policy visions at a town hall meeting in Londonderry, N.H., on Wednesday, the Floridian said upending the 2010 health care overhaul law would take the support of a filibuster-proof supermajority of 60 senators.

Full story

August 21, 2015

Obamacare Repeal Effort Could Wait Until Next Year

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Thune noted Democrats used reconciliation to enact Obamacare the year after the related budget resolution. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The No. 3 Senate Republican hinted there may be no effort to use fast-track budget procedures to get an Obamacare repeal to the president’s desk this year.

During a broader interview about GOP messaging heading into the August recess, Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune noted that when Democrats passed the sidecar to the Affordable Care Act with a simple majority in the Senate through budget reconciliation, it was the calendar year after the relevant budget resolution was adopted.

Full story

August 19, 2015

Warner Looking to Support Gig Economy Workers

gig economy

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

RICHMOND, Va. — Sen. Mark Warner continued his quest Tuesday to rewrite the social contract with those who occupy the ever-expanding “gig economy.”

With the proliferation of sharing businesses like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb, more and more people are finding ways to earn extra income. But many are compelled to do it out of necessity and are left with nothing to fall back on if and when things go south. Full story

August 17, 2015

McConnell Praises Efforts to Fight Heroin Epidemic

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

McConnell is praising new funds to fight heroin abuse in Kentucky and elsewhere. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is starting the week with praise for the White House’s drug czar.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy on Monday formally announced that it would be providing $2.5 million in funding for a new Heroin Response strategy to fight opioid abuse in five identified High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, including Appalachia.

Full story

July 24, 2015

Cruz Accuses McConnell of Lying About Deal on Reviving the Export-Import Bank (Updated) (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 10:29 a.m. | Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, accused his own majority leader of effectively lying to fellow senators about his intentions Friday in a floor speech that could have serious repercussions.

“The majority leader looked me in the eye, and looked 54 Republicans in the eye. I cannot believe he would tell a flat-out lie. And I voted based on those assurances that he made to each and every single one of us,” the GOP presidential candidate said. “What we just saw today was an absolute demonstration that not only what he told every Republican senator, but what he told the press over and over and over and over again was a simple lie.”

Full story

July 13, 2015

Senators Call for More From Feds on Medical Marijuana Research

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s high time to look closer at medical marijuana research, eight Democratic senators wrote in a letter sent Monday to several departments in the federal government.

Acknowledging that 23 states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana use and an additional 15 states allow cannabadiol  all without federal involvement  the senators argue that the federal government has an “opportunity and a responsibility to craft a sensible research and public health strategy that allows us to generate meaningful data and conclusions.” Full story

June 29, 2015

In Washington, Ted Cruz’s ‘Truth’ Will Make Him More Enemies

A new book by Ted Cruz slams a number of his colleagues in what he calls the "Washington cartel." (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A new book by Cruz — “A Time For Truth” — slams a number of his colleagues in what he calls the “Washington cartel.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

When their presidential bids failed, senators as liberal as Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and as conservative as Barry Goldwater of Arizona returned to Capitol Hill and had productive — if not legendary — careers.

But Sen. Ted Cruz’s new book is the latest indication he has no plan to be a member of such a club if his run for the White House doesn’t go as planned. He is running against what he’s taken to calling a “Washington cartel.”

As to be expected from a senator who has openly sought to undermine GOP leadership, “A Time for Truth” does not pull punches, leading off with anecdotes about one of the more bizarre sequences of events in recent Senate history: the day the clerk’s microphone was turned off for a crucial vote on raising the debt limit.

Full story

June 25, 2015

Next Obamacare Battle? The 2016 Election (Video)

Graham, R-S.C., speaks with reporters in the Capitol on Tuesday, April 21, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Graham said Obamacare will be the key domestic issue. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold subsidies for people to purchase health insurance forestalls the need for Republicans in Congress to take action on the law, pushing the issue as a substantive matter into the 2016 election cycle.

The candidates are embracing the shift.

Full story

June 18, 2015

Ted Cruz Vs. Ted Cruz on Obamacare Extensions

Cruz was for a six-month transition from Obamacare before he was against it. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Cruz was for a six-month transition from Obamacare before he was against it. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz has never shied from his displeasure for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The Texas Republican’s opposition may have been most famously embodied in his extremely long speech in 2013, which, along with his lobbying efforts to get Congress to defund the law, set the stage for the 16-day government shutdown.

But Cruz’s recent positions seem to conflict with a stance he took just a few months ago.

With the Supreme Court expected to offer a ruling in King v. Burwell that threatens subsidies for approximately 6.4 million people throughout the 34 states with federally run health care exchanges, Cruz, according to the Wall Street Journal and others, have been opposed to proposals giving a six-month or longer sunset period for those who would lose the subsidies.

But in February, Cruz introduced the ObamaCare Repeal bill, which would have provided a six-month transition period as well.

According to Cruz’s office, the two ideas — total repeal and elimination of the subsidies — are completely different. A total repeal would require a six-month period for the entire country to adjust, while an aide suggested subsidies wouldn’t need to be extended if states were allowed to opt out of Obamacare, which Cruz has also suggested.

While millions of people could lose their subsidies depending on how the Supreme Court decides, Cruz believes everyone’s health care situation will improve if the law goes away, according to a Cruz aide.

One of the sponsors of a subsidy-extension bill, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., on Wednesday floated the idea to reporters of something like a two-year extension of the “somewhat status quo,” which would give the families of those affected by the law time to adjust and would also create a mandate election in 2016.

“Give the American people a chance to be involved in deciding what direction our health care system will take after the 2016 elections,” said Johnson, who faces perhaps the most difficult re-election of any Senate Republican.

“Now [that] they’ve actually seen the results of Obamacare, now’s the time to have that mandate election,” he said.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., has also suggested using the money left over from King v. Burwell fallout to fund a Republican replacement plan.

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.
 
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May 27, 2015

Cruz Threatens to Subpoena Treasury Officials to Testify About Obamacare Rules

Cruz wants to keep the filibuster, even though it makes it harder to repeal Obamacare. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz is warning he might seek to compel testimony from the Treasury Department about the Affordable Care Act.

The Texas Republican presidential candidate, who has the gavel of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts, said his staff had been informed by the Obama administration that witnesses would not be available to testify about the rule-making process for providing subsidies under Obamacare because of ongoing litigation.

Full story

April 13, 2015

Senate Returns to an Immediate ‘Doc Fix’ Deadline

The Senate is facing a post-recess time crunch on the doc fix. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate is facing a post-recess time crunch on the ‘doc fix.’ (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lawmakers will already be facing a time crunch when the Senate returns Monday.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has been withholding payments to doctors treating Medicare patients to give Congress a window to work through a long-term resolution to the Sustainable Growth Rate problem that sees physicians regularly facing draconian cuts in payment rates without a patch known as a “doc fix.”

Full story

March 31, 2015

10 Things We Learned From the Vote-a-Rama

vote-a-rama

Toomey got attention for changing his vote during last week’s vote-a-rama. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the vote-a-rama in the rearview mirror, it’s worth taking stock of what the 15-plus hours of nonbinding votes on dozens of amendments said about the 2016 presidential election, how vulnerable senators voted and what issues might now come to the fore. Full story

March 27, 2015

Vitter Amendment Rears Its Head in Wee Hours of Vote-a-Rama (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Vitter knows he has better leverage on must-pass legislation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:47 a.m. | Sen. David Vitter won a small victory in the wee hours Friday, resurrecting his amendment to end employer-provided health benefits for members of Congress.

Fourteen hours into the vote-a-rama, 52 senators voted to approve the Louisiana Republican’s proposal. It came first in a series of seven votes wrapping up the marathon session. The nonbinding vote marked Vitter’s latest salvo in an ongoing crusade against congressional enrollment in Obamacare.

“This amendment would say no, we’re going to live by that statute. We’re going to go to the exchange for our health care. No special subsidy, no special deal, and it would also apply to the president, the vice president and their political appointees,” Vitter said, making clear it wouldn’t pertain to congressional aides.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., refuted the idea of there being anything special about getting a health care subsidy.

“Today every single senator is treated like every single person in the country who works for a large employer. Those large employers all make a contribution to their employees’ health care,” Boxer said. “Now colleagues, you do not have to take that employer contribution. If you don’t want it, give it back.”

Boxer added she assumes Vitter pays his subsidy back to the Treasury Department.

One Democrat, Michael Bennet of Colorado, who faces the voters in 2016, joined Vitter, while three Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Dan Coats of Indiana — voted no.

Coats announced this week he won’t seek reelection.

As part of his crusade, Vitter has tried to attach the amendment to all kinds of legislation, including a low profile energy efficiency measure. But the senator, who wants to become governor of Louisiana, has learned he has the best leverage with must-pass measures like the budget.

Vitter also tried taking on the House of Representatives, asking Speaker John A. Boehner to help him get information on Congress’ small-business exchange applications. So far, House officials have shrugged off his request, writing it off as an attempt to score political points.

Niels Lesniewski and Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.

Related:

Rand Paul Proposes Higher Defense Spending — If It’s Paid for

Voting Marathon: More Test Marketing Than Attack Ads

Vote-a-Rama Presents Political Peril for Vulnerable Incumbents

Start Preparing Now for the Budget Vote-A-Rama

Democrats Outline Floor Strategy for Budget Battle

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

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By Hannah Hess Posted at 3:19 a.m.
Budget, Health Care

March 26, 2015

Freshman Senator: Pay for Obamacare Replacement With … Obamacare

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 08: From left, Sens. Steve Daines, R-Mont., Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., attend a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee markup in Dirksen Building on legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, January 8, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Cassidy, center, a freshman senator and Louisiana doctor, has a different spin on replacing Obamacare than most Republicans. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Bill Cassidy, the freshman senator from Louisiana and a doctor, has been pushing fellow Republicans in his first few months in the Senate to embrace an alternative to Obamacare — one he predicts will insure more people without mandates.

And he even says he has a way to pay for it: Obamacare. Full story

March 4, 2015

Senate GOP Has No Definite Options in Response to Obamacare Case

Richard Burr VA Secretary Eric Shinseki DAV Veterans

Barrasso, center, said the GOP will continue to prepare for the King v. Burwell ruling. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The GOP hasn’t “signed off” on a plan to respond should the Supreme Court strike down most health insurance subsidies in King v. Burwell, Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Barrasso said on the eve of oral arguments in the case.

Pressed for details on how a plan the Wyoming Republican offered with two Senate colleagues might compare to the current structure of the Affordable Care Act or a two-part “off-ramp out of Obamacare” put forth by three House GOP committee chairman, Barrasso said discussions were ongoing. He said a transition would likely involve federal funds, and that Republican governors would likely have a say. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 1:20 p.m.
Health Care, Policy

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