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Tom Howell Jr.

Tom Howell Jr.

Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

Articles by Tom Howell Jr.

Gary L. Edwards of Falls Church is a member of Samaritan Ministries International, a "health care sharing ministry" in which Christian members use monthly shares to pay for each other's medical needs. Such ministries are one of nine exemptions built into the Affordable Care Act, which goes into effect next year. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

'Obamacare' alternative: health-sharing ministries offered a way out

While most Americans next year will have to grapple with the intricacies of President Obama's health law and the "individual mandate" requiring residents to have health insurance, Mr. Edwards and more than 160,000 others who use health-sharing ministries will be exempt. They're one of nine exemptions built into the health care law. Published June 6, 2013

Rep. Tom Price, Georgia Republican and a physician, says his health care plan won't put the government "in charge of a doggone thing."
(Associated Press)

GOP congressman pushes for 'patient-centered' health law

A Georgia congressman said Wednesday that House Republicans will redouble efforts to replace President Obama's health care law with a "patient-centered" alternative that uses tax breaks to make insurance affordable without imposing mandates on Americans. Published June 5, 2013

Rep. Tom Price, Georgia Republican, attends a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor in downtown Washington on June 5, 2013. (Christian Science Monitor)

GOP lawmaker: Congress has the tools to replace 'Obamacare'

A Georgia congressman said Wednesday he will try, once again, to push a health care bill that offers a "patient-centered" alternative to President Obama's sweeping reforms — one that includes tax breaks to make insurance affordable without imposing government mandates on Americans. Published June 5, 2013

**FILE** Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 17, 2013, before the Senate Finance Committee hearing on President Barack Obama's budget proposal for fiscal year 2014. (Associated Press)

Sebelius faces heat over 'Obamacare' promotion drive

President Obama's top health official on Tuesday strenuously defended her decision to ask two major organizations to contribute to a nonprofit that is promoting the president's new national health care law, saying she didn't violate any laws. Published June 4, 2013

** FILE ** Treasury Secretary Jack Lew testifies before the Senate Banking Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, May 21, 2013. (Associated Press)

Medicare fund gets some breathing room, but still in trouble

The Obama administration took a victory lap after the latest Medicare numbers released Friday showed the program's solvency has been extended by two years — a development the president's aides said is a result of the health care law. Published May 31, 2013

"Today, we take the next step forward in solving a problem that has been kicked down the road too many times," said Rep. Joseph R. Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican and House health subcommittee chairman.

House GOP drafts bill to revamp doctors' pay under Medicare

House Republicans released a draft bill Tuesday to repeal the ill-defined way physicians are paid under Medicare in a bid to finally end the annual Capitol Hill scramble to find extra cash to pay the doctors. Published May 28, 2013

** FILE ** A woman leaves a Hobby Lobby store in Little Rock, Ark., on Sept. 12, 2012. (Associated Press)

Appeals courts mull 'Obamacare' contraception mandate

Business owners who object to the contraception mandate in President Obama's health care law are pleading their cases in appeals courts across the country, a curtain raiser before a potential showdown in the Supreme Court. Published May 26, 2013

**FILE** IRS official Lois Lerner is sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 22, 2013, before the House Oversight Committee hearing to investigate the extra scrutiny IRS gave to tea party and other conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status. Lerner told the committee she did nothing wrong and then invoked her constitutional right to not answer lawmakers' questions. (Associated Press)

Answers on IRS only raise more questions and calls for a special investigation

Three days of hearings have shown that IRS scrutiny of conservative organizations extended beyond a few rogue employees in Cincinnati, that the agency staged its announcement of the bad news to try to limit the damage, and that the White House knew more, and knew it earlier, than it first admitted. Published May 23, 2013

**FILE** IRS official Lois Lerner is sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 22, 2013, before the House Oversight Committee hearing to investigate the extra scrutiny IRS gave to tea party and other conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status. Lerner told the committee she did nothing wrong and then invoked her constitutional right to not answer lawmakers' questions. (Associated Press)

Key IRS official speaks at House hearing — but not for long

Lois Lerner, an IRS official who reportedly tried to stop the targeting of conservative groups in July 2011 before it surfaced again, told House investigators she did nothing wrong but will not answer their questions on Wednesday. Published May 22, 2013

**FILE** IRS official Lois Lerner is sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 22, 2013, before the House Oversight Committee hearing to investigate the extra scrutiny IRS gave to tea party and other conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status. Lerner told the committee she did nothing wrong and then invoked her constitutional right to not answer lawmakers' questions. (Associated Press)

IRS head Lois Lerner, who invoked 5th Amendment, may be compelled to testify

The woman at the center of the IRS scandal refused to testify to Congress on Wednesday, but House Republicans said Lois Lerner botched her attempt to invoke her right against self-incrimination and said they likely will force her to come back and explain why the agency targeted conservative political groups. Published May 22, 2013

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (left), Montana Democrat, accompanied by Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the committee's ranking Republican, questions ousted IRS Chief Steve Miller, former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman and J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, on Capitol Hill on May 21, 2013, during the committee's hearing on the IRS practice of targeting applicants for tax-exempt status based on political leanings. (Associated Press)

Parties divide over IRS scandal fallout

Democratic lawmakers on the Senate Finance Committee said Tuesday the IRS, while engaging in "unacceptable" targeting of conservative groups, may have been set up for failure by campaign finance law ambiguities that allowed tax-exempt groups to engage in partisan politics without disclosing their donors. Published May 21, 2013

Former IRS commissioner says scrutiny was not his job as a political appointee

The man who led the Internal Revenue Service when it was inappropriately scrutinizing conservative groups' applications for tax-exempt status said Tuesday that he intentionally kept himself in the dark about those kinds of decisions because he thought, as a political appointee, he should keep his distance. Published May 21, 2013

The exterior of the Internal Revenue Service building in Washington is seen here on March 22, 2013. (Associated Press) **FILE**

IRS official to plead the Fifth

An attorney for the high-ranking IRS official who ignited the agency's political targeting scandal with a public apology this month plans to invoke her right to remain silent instead of answering questions from top House investigators on Wednesday. Published May 21, 2013

House Ways and Means Committee member Rep. Pat Tiberi (left), Ohio Republican, waves a constituent's application to the IRS that was delayed on May 17, 2013, on Capitol Hill  during the committee's hearing on the extra scrutiny the IRS gave tea party and other conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status. From left are Tiberi and fellow Republican Reps. Devin Nunes of California, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Kevin Brady of Texas, and Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan. (Associated Press)

GOP eager to link IRS scandal to 'Obamacare' takedown efforts

As her fellow House Republicans took another symbolic vote Friday to repeal President Obama’s health care law, Rep. Diane Black, Tennessee Republican, filed a bill that prohibits the Internal Revenue Service from targeting political groups with any data obtained by carrying out the overhaul. Published May 17, 2013

**FILE** Marilyn B. Tavenner (Associated Press)

Senate approves new Medicare/Medicaid chief

The Senate on Wednesday approved President Obama's pick to lead the nation's Medicare agency, sending it a permanent leader for the first time in several years as the nation inches closer to sweeping health care reforms. Marilyn B. Tavenner enjoyed bipartisan support at the committee level before the full chamber voted, 91-7, to confirm her as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Published May 15, 2013