Overnight Healthcare

Overnight Healthcare: Dems talk tough on gun research ban

A top House Democrat suggested Thursday that the party’s support for a year-end government spending bill will hinge on Republicans’ willingness to end a decades-old ban on nearly all federal gun-violence research.

Democrats on Wednesday delivered to the Republicans an omnibus spending proposal that eliminates the so-called “Dickey amendment,” a perennial rider that’s effectively blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from researching gun violence.

{mosads}Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said Republicans would need to eliminate the funding ban, named for a former congressman who has disavowed the language, to guarantee Democratic votes and he vowed to oppose any bill that kept the provision.

“If [the government’s] budget does not allow the CDC to compile that data, that information, so we can figure out how to more effectively address the public safety-requirements of the American people, then — I’m speaking for myself — it’s a budget not worth voting for,” Israel told reporters.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had announced the renewed push to repeal the ban Thursday morning during a speech marking the third anniversary of the Newtown, Conn., shooting.

“We must insist that we cannot have a bill leave the station that still has that ban in it,” Pelosi told a crowded room of gun control supporters.

When asked if Democrats would refuse to sign the spending bill that includes the gun research limits, however, Pelosi replied: “What we’re saying, this is a priority for us.”

Israel, with Pelosi at his side, appeared to harden the tone of negotiations at the Democratic leadership briefing later that afternoon.

“With respect to the omnibus,” Israel said, “the leader [Pelosi] has made her position clear, and it reflects the position of the Caucus. If they want … Democratic votes on a budget, that budget must allow the federal government to do the research that’s required to keep the American people safe,” Israel said. Read more here

DEM FAULT LINES EMERGE ON CADILLAC TAX: Prominent ObamaCare supporters are lashing out against a plan backed by other Democrats to delay the contentious “Cadillac tax” for two years, warning that the delay would blow a hole in the healthcare law.

A two-year suspension of the 40 percent tax on high-cost health insurance plans is expected to appear in a year-end package of tax breaks known as “tax extenders,” though negotiations aren’t yet complete.

However, there is a division, with some Democratic lawmakers, health experts and — most notably — the White House pushing support for the tax. Backers argue the projected $91 billion in revenue created by the tax over the next decade is essential to funding the law and keeping healthcare costs in check.

“A two-year delay, I’m concerned, turns into a permanent delay,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). Read more here.

HEALTH INSURANCE TAX COULD BE SUSPENDED Lawmakers are considering scaling back an ObamaCare tax on insurance companies as part of a year-end legislative deal.

Two other ObamaCare provisions were already expected to be in the package: a two-year delay of the “Cadillac tax” on high cost health insurance and a two-year suspension of the excise tax on medical devices.

But sources say a one-year suspension of the health insurance tax, also known as the “premium tax,” in 2018, is also in the mix.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, previously expressed reluctance to give Democrats their request for a two-year delay in the Cadillac tax without extracting concessions in return.

Asked on Thursday what Republicans might get in exchange, he pointed to the other two ObamaCare taxes.

“Well I know the medical device tax and the premium tax are being discussed in that context,” Cornyn said. Read more here.

 

ON TAP TOMORROW

Politico hosts an Emerging Health Care Leaders panel at 8:30 a.m.

 

WHAT WE’RE READING:

U.S. life expectancy flat at 79 for third straight year (Associated Press)

As deadline looms, most have yet to re-enroll in ObamaCare (Star Advertiser)

Chipotle CEO ‘deeply sorry’ about customers who fell sick (Miami Herald)

 

IN THE STATES:

Appeals court asked to revive Arizona race, sex-abortion ban (Associated Press)

Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania has exceeded 500,000 new enrollees (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

 

ICYMI FROM THE HILL:

Dems warn against ObamaCare tax delays

Thousands of pharmacies join ObamaCare sign-up efforts

Send tips and comments to Sarah Ferris, sferris@thehill.com, and Peter Sullivan, psullivan@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @thehill, @sarahnferris, @PeterSullivan4

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