This month marks the 47th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid, and House Democrats jumped at the chance to commemorate the programs with singing, speeches and cake on Wednesday. Members came in and out of the small event as the House held votes on a bill to allow a full audit of the Federal Reserve. Several participated in a round of "Happy Birthday."
Taking the podium before a small audience, Rep. Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraPoll: Former Sanders staffer gains steam in race to replace Xavier Becerra Mortgages rise out of reach for many Latinos House Hispanic Dems vie for more committee assignments MORE (D-Calif.) praised Medicare and joked about getting older, undergoing his first colonoscopy and getting on the AARP's mailing list.
President Obama issued an official proclamation celebrating the programs in 2010. "Medicare and Medicaid support longer, healthier lives and economic security for some of the neediest among us," he stated. "We must continue to keep [them] strong for the millions of beneficiaries who rely on these vital safety nets."
Healthwatch has more from the event.
We’re a happy family: Reports of discord among the Supreme Court justices is “absurd,” Justice Antonin Scalia said in an interview with NPR that aired Wednesday. CBS News reported that relationships among the justices were strained by the court’s healthcare ruling, specifically Chief Justice John Roberts’s decision to change his vote and uphold the Affordable Care Act. Hogwash, Scalia said.
"That's just not the way justices of the Supreme Court behave, going into pouts. I mean that — it's absurd," he told NPR. "If you can't disagree, even vehemently, on the law without taking it personally and getting angry at the person, you ought to look for another job."
Healthwatch has more from the interview.
O’Connor defends Roberts: Former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that judges do not owe a loyalty to the political party of the president who nominated them — an implicit reference to conservative backlash over Roberts. The chief justice, who was nominated by President George W. Bush, was accused of “betraying” conservatives, and some pundits questioned whether he should have been nominated.
Judiciary Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahySenate confirms first nominees of Trump era Senate gears up for battle over Trump's CIA pick Overnight Tech: Meet the key players for Trump on tech | Patent chief staying on | Kerry aide goes to Snapchat | Uber's M settlement MORE (D-Vt.) asked O’Connor whether such rhetoric can threaten the judicial branch’s independence.
“It’s unfortunate, because I think comments like that demonstrate only too well the lack of understanding that some of our citizens have about the role of the judicial branch,” O’Connor said.
Video of the hearing is available here.
Chamber hits health votes: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a new round of ads Wednesday attacking Democratic senators who supported healthcare reform. The Chamber’s latest ads target Sens. Bill NelsonBill NelsonLive coverage: Senators grill Trump's Treasury pick Trump's Commerce pick admits to unknowingly hiring undocumented worker Senate Democrats brace for Trump era MORE (Fla.), Jon TesterJon TesterSenators introduce dueling miners bills Live coverage: The Senate's 'vote-a-rama' Dems attack Trump SEC pick's ties to Wall Street MORE (Mont.), and Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownMajor progressive group unveils first 2018 Senate endorsements Congressional leaders unite to protect consumers Mnuchin weathers stormy confirmation hearing MORE (Ohio) as well as Rep. Tammy BaldwinTammy BaldwinHillary gives Bernie cool reception at Trump inaugural lunch Major progressive group unveils first 2018 Senate endorsements Overnight Finance: Scoop – Trump team eyes dramatic spending cuts | Treasury pick survives stormy hearing MORE (D-Wis.) over their support for the healthcare law.
The Hill has details.
Clinical services from abroad?: The healthcare industry has started to outsource clinical services, continuing a trend that began with record-keeping, according to the Los Angeles Times. The paper found that some major insurers are farming out jobs in pre-service nursing — where an insurance nurse helps determine a patient's course of treatment — to India and the Philippines. "With financial pressures intensifying and the uptake of electronic record-keeping accelerating, analysts ... see more consolidation and outsourcing ahead" for insurers and hospitals, the report stated.
Critics called the trend dangerous for U.S. workers and patients. Read more.
High-deductible plans on the rise: Insurance plans with low premiums and high out-of-pocket costs are catching on, according to new data from America’s Health Insurance Plans. The industry trade group said 13.5 million people are enrolled in high-deductible plans, and enrollment has grown steadily every year. The market for high-deductible plans is also shifting away from individual consumers and toward large employers. Read the Healthwatch post.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing on the Child Care and Development Block Grant reauthorization.
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