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Health Care Reform

News coverage, opinion and information on health care reform and health care policy including the Affordable Care Act.

FILE - This May 17, 2018 file photo shows packs of menthol cigarettes and other tobacco products at a store in San Francisco. On Thursday, May 15, 2018, FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb pledged to ban menthol from cigarettes, in what could be a major step to further push down U.S. smoking rates. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

FDA moves to limit sale of flavored e-cigs, ban menthol cigarettes

By Tom Howell Jr. - The Washington Times

The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday it plans to ban flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes, and restrict the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, saying the U.S. must reverse a ballooning "epidemic" of teen use. Published November 15, 2018

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"Health care was on the ballot, and health care won," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, about the midterm election. (Associated Press)

McConnell: GOP hopes to ax Obamacare are gone

- The Washington Times

The Senate's top Republican admitted Wednesday that the party's hopes for repealing Obamacare are dead in Congress after Democrats captured control of the House, leaving in place a law that few think is working.

This Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, photo shows supporters of a Montana ballot initiative to extend the state's Medicaid expansion program and raise tobacco taxes rally in Helena, Mont. (AP Photo/Matt Volz)

Three deep-red states vote to expand Medicaid

- The Washington Times

Three ruby-red states voted Tuesday to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, meaning more than 300,000 people will be eligible for taxpayer-funded insurance once Republican governors begin drawing down federal funds.

Illustration on drug pricing by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Seeking clarity on drug pricing

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar wants to make prescription drug pricing more transparent. We agree, but his well-intentioned plan will only confuse and mislead consumers. What's the good of listing drug prices in advertising if almost no one pays that "list price?" When patients say, "My drugs are too expensive," they're not talking about the list price — they're talking about their co-pays at the pharmacy.

President Donald Trump sits with Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the FBI National Academy graduation ceremony in Quantico, Va., on Dec. 15, 2017. (Associated Press) **FILE**

Trump: No heads-up from Sessions on Obamacare position

- The Washington Times

Two months after oral arguments, a federal judge hasn't said whether a Republican tweak to Obamacare should stop the entire program in its tracks, pushing an explosive fight over the law beyond the midterms and forcing voters to decide which party can be trusted to balance protections for pre-existing conditions with affordable coverage.

Synagogue Stained Glass Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Issues that dominate the midterms

Several issues dominate the midterm elections this week: The roaring economy, migrant caravans on a mysteriously swift journey to the United States, health care reform and leftist mobs protesting almost nonstop.

In this June 26, 2018, file photo, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. A DEA report obtained by The Associated Press shows heroin, fentanyl and other opioids continue to be the highest drug threat in the nation. The National Drug Threat Assessment will be released publicly later Friday.  Azar said earlier this month that overdose deaths have now begun to level off. But he cautioned it is too soon to declare victory. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Feds say heroin, fentanyl remain biggest drug threat to U.S.

- Associated Press

Opioid overdose deaths hit the highest level ever recorded in the United States last year, with an estimated 200 people dying per day, according to a report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The federal website where consumers can sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is shown on a computer screen in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Federal health care website up and running after slow start

- Associated Press

The federal website where consumers can get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act was up and running Thursday after a slow start as sign-up season for 2019 opened days before the midterm elections.

This April 3, 2018, file photo shows a closeup of a beam scale in New York. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)

Obesity epidemic costs U.S. economy $1.72 trillion

- The Washington Times

The obesity epidemic in the U.S. has cost the U.S. economy $1.72 trillion, which includes hundreds of billions of dollars in health care costs and more than a trillion dollars in lost productivity, according to a report published Tuesday by the Milken Institute, a California-based economic think tank.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions accompanied by accompanied by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon, right, and other officials from the Drug Enforcement Administration, State Department, Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, speaks at a news conference to announce enforcement efforts against Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, at the Justice Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ** FILE **

Justice Department announces new measures to fight opioids

- The Washington Times

The Justice Department will create a task force to target prescription opioid abuse in the Appalachian region, as part of a series of measures to fight a drug epidemic that has claimed the lives of 72,000 Americans, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday.

Stopping Opioids in the Mail Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Fighting opioids in the mail

Toward the end of the summer, I wrote in this paper about the need to attack the nationwide opioid epidemic from every possible angle. Nonprofits, local elected officials and our federal government have admirably worked on efforts ranging from reducing the stigma of addiction to tackling over-prescription. But any successes have been stymied by a failure to address the supply chain for the deadliest synthetic drugs that enter our communities every day.

Better health care, state-style

No one is guaranteed a tomorrow, but expectations run pretty high for happy days in the here and now. Americans consider first-rate health care a right tucked somewhere in the Constitution, between baseball and free hot dogs. The lengthy struggle over the proper role of government in facilitating access to modern medicine — including the grinding Obamacare tug-of-war — has reached an exhausting stalemate. With voters soon to pass judgment on the well-being of the nation, legislators at every level would be advised to get on with devising a health care system that Americans can live with. The key could be loosening the bureaucratic rules and enabling states to do what they were meant to do.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma speaks to reporters Thursday, March 29, 2018, during a visit to the Center for Medical Interoperability in Nashville. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

Trump admin. loosens up Obamacare waiver rules

- The Washington Times

States looking to get around Obamacare's strictures will soon be able to use federal money to help people buy cheaper, skimpier plans, so long as they don't also eliminate plans that met Obamacare's earlier requirements, the Trump administration said Monday.

Illustration on the prospect of socialized medicine in America by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

'Medicare for all'

It seems like just yesterday that Democrats were telling us that under Obamacare, "if you like your doctor and if you like your health plan you can keep it."

This 2011 file photo provided by Wilmot Chayee shows Thomas Eric Duncan at a wedding in Ghana. Thirty-eight days after Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola in a local hospital where he died Oct. 8, Dallas calmly marked the end of its Ebola crisis on Friday, Nov. 7, 2014, when the last of the 177 people who were being monitored for symptoms of the deadly virus were to be cleared at midnight. (AP Photo/Wilmot Chayee, File)

HHS IG: Hospitals better prepared for Ebola after 2014 outbreak

- The Washington Times

Far more U.S. hospitals are prepared to deal with Ebola than they were in 2014, when a raging outbreak in West Africa stress-tested the American health system and forced the federal government to rewrite its guidelines for dealing with infectious diseases, a government watchdog said Friday.

In this July 16, 2018, file photo, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Sen. Chuck Schumer: Voters see through Trump's talk on health care

- The Washington Times

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Friday he's counting on voters to see through President Trump's rhetoric on protections for people with preexisting conditions, arguing Mr. Trump's policy foibles and hands-off approach to a lawsuit that threatens Obamacare belies his claims of "total support" for measures that shield the sick.

In this Oct. 28, 2014, file photo provided by Duke University, neurosurgeon Dr. John Sampson places a catheter into a glioblastoma patient at Duke in Durham, N.C. One of the world's most dreaded viruses has been turned into an immune system therapy to fight deadly brain tumors. Survival was better than expected for patients in a small study treated with a modified poliovirus, which helped their bodies attack their cancer, doctors reported on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (Shawn Rocco/Duke Health via AP) ** FILE **

Polio-like paralyzing disease hits hundreds -- but don't call it polio

- The Washington Times

The United States was declared "polio-free" in 1979, a feat the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is "thanks to [an] effective vaccine." But now it's back -- or is it? The government says no, the condition that's been inflicting hundreds with polio-like symptoms is not, in fact, polio. It's polio-like. It's polio-pretty much. But it's not polio.

Health care is top issue for midterm voters: Poll

- The Washington Times

Midterm voters are mostly likely to cite health care as a leading issue, according to a Thursday poll that bolsters Democrats' decision to focus on coverage and care but says immigration and polarizing views of President Trump are crowding the message out.

Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, speaks during a news conference in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) ** FILE **

Key Obamacare rates to drop slightly in 2019

- The Washington Times

Premiums for key health plans will drop by an average of 1.5 percent on the federal marketplace in 2019, the Trump administration said Thursday, heralding an "especially gratifying" end to years of eye-popping hikes on HealthCare.gov.

Illustration on the future of U.S. health insurance law by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

When bigger is better

The Trump administration has made important strides toward promoting the so-called "value agenda" in health care — efforts to bring down costs by promoting systems of payment and reimbursement that reward not the volume of care, but instead the value and quality of care delivered to the patient.

Obamacare Financial Decisions Illustration by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Trump must let Obamacare implode under its own weight

The Trump administration has a $10 billion decision to make. It's debating whether to continue Obamacare's "risk-adjustment" program, which redistributes revenue from insurers with healthier-than-average customers to those with disproportionately sick enrollees.

"Fixed" Mosquito Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Hacking mosquitoes to save lives

Mosquitoes cause more human suffering than any other insect, including nearly half a million deaths annually from malaria alone, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports.

Rep. Peter Roskam, Illinois Republican, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 17, 2014. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

Major opioids bill clears House ahead of midterms

- The Washington Times

Sweeping legislation to combat the opioids crisis hopped closer to President Trump's desk Friday, as House lawmakers voted to expand Medicaid funding for treatment, spur the development of non-addictive painkillers and empower inspectors to root out deadly fentanyl from overseas.

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Chart to accompany Moore article of June 4, 2018.

Eight reasons to still hate Obamacare

Remember Obamacare? The fight is far from over on the future of the Obama-era health insurance overhaul. Republicans are making a list-ditch effort this year to turn the program and the money over to the state. This isn't full Obamacare repeal, but would make a world of sense because states would be free to experiment and find ways to reduce costs and provide better services.

Opioid treatment gap in Medicare: Methadone clinics

- Associated Press

One in three older Americans with Medicare drug coverage is prescribed opioid painkillers, but for those who develop a dangerous addiction there is one treatment Medicare won't cover: methadone.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., flanked by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., right, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., left, speaks to reporters as they faced assured defeat on the Graham-Cassidy bill, the GOP's latest attempt to repeal the Obama health care law, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, in Washington. The decision marked the latest defeat on the issue for President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Republican-controlled Congress. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Another funeral for repeal and replace

The Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare was dead and buried. The eulogies, such as they were, were over and the Health Care Freedom Act of 2017 was dispatched to a forgettable corner of the graveyard. But when a couple of senators noticed a twitch and heard a groan they pulled it out of its coffin and called the medics.

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From The Vault

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at the National Sheriffs' Association convention in New Orleans, Monday, June 18, 2018, in this file photo. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) **FILE**

Sessions announces biggest health-fraud takedown 'in history'

- The Washington Times

Federal agents carried out the biggest health care fraud takedown "in history" on Thursday, the Department of Justice said, charging more than 600 people across the country with bilking taxpayers for $2 billion through fake medical claims and prescriptions for unneeded opioids.

President Donald Trump speaks during an event about prescription drug prices with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, right, in the Rose Garden of the White House, Friday May 11, 2018, in Washington  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trump vows to end 'rip-offs' at the pharmacy counter

- The Washington Times

President Trump said Friday he will put "American patients first" by speeding cheaper drugs to market, forcing companies to disclose prices and leveraging trade deals to put U.S. consumers on a level playing field with those abroad.

In this Wednesday, April 5, 2017, file photo, Dr. Scott Gottlieb speaks during his confirmation hearing before a Senate committee, in Washington, as President Donald Trump's nominee to head the Food and Drug Administration. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Feds take on clinical, commercial roots of opioids crisis

- The Washington Times

Food and Drug Administrator Scott Gottlieb said Thursday his agency will be "very aggressive" in warning consumers about opioid-related products or taking them off the market, noting for too long, people thought the U.S. drug epidemic was welling up from the illicit heroin market.

This Feb. 19, 2013, file photo shows OxyContin pills arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

Senators, agencies plot ways to head off opioids addiction

- The Washington Times

Government officials on Thursday said they're scrambling to keep Americans from getting hooked on opioids in the first place, from cutting the number of pills in circulation to crafting drugs that attack pain without triggering brain receptors that crave another high.

This image provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services shows what the new Medicare cards will look like. The cards are getting a makeover to fight identity theft. No more Social Security numbers will be placed on the card. Next April, Medicare will begin mailing every beneficiary a new card with a unique new number to identify them. (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services via AP)

Medicare to issue new cards in anti-fraud measure

- The Washington Times

Medicare enrollees will receive brand-new cards that replace their Social Security numbers with unique IDs, the Trump administration said Thursday, hoping to crack down on the type of identity theft and fraud that's soaking the federal insurance program.

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Obama chats up health care

Obama chats up health care

Gallery: 6 Photos
President Obama speaks about the Patient's Bill of Rights and health care reform in the backyard of a private residence in Falls Church, Va.