Overnight Health Care: Ryan's office warns he wasn't part of ObamaCare deal | House conservatives push for mandate repeal in final tax bill | Dem wants probe into CVS-Aetna merger

Overnight Health Care: Ryan's office warns he wasn't part of ObamaCare deal | House conservatives push for mandate repeal in final tax bill | Dem wants probe into CVS-Aetna merger
© Greg Nash

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanCalif. congresswoman-elect bumps into Pelosi at airport How this year’s freshmen can save the Congress — and themselves Democrat Katie Porter unseats GOP's Mimi Walters MORE's (R-Wis.) office told a meeting of congressional leadership offices on Monday that the Speaker is not part of a deal to get ObamaCare fixes passed before the end of the year, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellJim Carrey on potentially losing fans over his anti-Trump Twitter art: 'Lose them' Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks Graham urges GOP leadership to bring vote on criminal justice reform MORE (R-Ky.) made a commitment to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) that he would support passage of two bipartisan ObamaCare bills before the end of the year, a promise that helped win her vote for tax reform.

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However, Ryan's office told a meeting of staff from the four top congressional leadership offices on Monday that he has not made that same commitment, raising further questions about whether the ObamaCare bills, already opposed by House conservatives, can pass the House.

Ryan's office did not go so far as to say it opposed the bipartisan bills, the source said, and it is still possible the measures could pass before the end of the year. The Senate is expected to add the measures to a government funding bill later this month, which would put pressure on the House to accept it or else risk a government shutdown.

Collins also got a commitment from President Trump to support the bills, which could help get them to passage.

One of the measures in question, from Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care — Presented by The Partnership for Safe Medicines — GOP lawmaker pushes back on Trump drug pricing plan | Pfizer to raise prices on 41 drugs next year | Grassley opts for Finance gavel GOP lawmaker pushes back on Trump drug pricing proposal Congress needs to wake up to nuclear security threat MORE (R-Tenn.) and ranking member Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care — Presented by The Partnership for Safe Medicines — FDA restricts sales of flavored e-cigs | Proposes ban on menthol in tobacco | Left wants vote on single-payer bill in new Congress | More than 12k lost Medicaid in Arkansas Schumer reelected as Senate Democratic Leader Senate GOP readies for leadership reshuffle MORE (D-Wash.), would fund key ObamaCare payments to insurers for two years in exchange for additional flexibility for states to change ObamaCare rules. The other bill, from Collins and Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonSenate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks Why Democratic policies outperform Democratic politicians in rural America Nelson concedes in bitterly-fought Florida Senate race MORE (D-Fla.), would provide funding known as "reinsurance" that helps pay for the costs of sick ObamaCare enrollees with the intent of bringing down premiums.

Collins hopes that these two bills would make up for the premium increases caused by repealing ObamaCare's individual mandate in the tax bill.

Read more here.

 

Top House Dem calls for probe into CVS-Aetna merger

A top House Democrat is calling for a hearing to examine the merger between CVS and Aetna.

In a letter to House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenGOP lawmaker pushes back on Trump drug pricing proposal Dems to ramp up oversight of Trump tech regulators Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma — Trump insists GOP will 'totally' protect people with pre-existing conditions | Landmark opioid bill signed into law | Report finds agencies blindsided by 'zero tolerance' policy MORE (R-Ore.), the committee's ranking member Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneLeft wants a vote on single-payer bill in new Congress On The Money: Trump, Senate leaders to huddle on border wall funding | Fed bank regulator walks tightrope on Dodd-Frank | Koch-backed groups blast incentives for corporations after Amazon deal Overnight Health Care — Presented by The Partnership for Safe Medicines — Dem vows Medicare drug price negotiations will be priority | ObamaCare enrollment down compared to last year | HHS declares health emergency in California MORE (D-N.J.) asked for a hearing on the merger as soon as possible.

"As the business of healthcare continues to morph, it is critical that Congress closely examine the changing relationships among healthcare entities and the impact these changing relationships have on the way healthcare is delivered in this country," Pallone wrote.

If approved, the $69 billion merger of the nation's largest pharmacy and third-largest health insurer could have major implications for the health care industry.

The companies are arguing that when merged, they will be able to improve health outcomes and reduce costs by integrating the pharmacy and insurer. They are promising significant changes to the business of health care delivery.

Read more here.

 

Chairman expects 'strong support' in House GOP for mandate repeal in tax bill 

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyGOP lawmaker pushes back on Trump drug pricing proposal Tax law failed to save GOP majority Overnight Health Care — Presented by The Partnership for Safe Medicines — Juul halts retail sales for most flavored e-cigs | CDC confirms 90 cases of rare polio-like illness | Physicians push back on Trump plans to redefine gender MORE (R-Texas) told reporters Tuesday that he expects most House Republicans will support repealing ObamaCare's individual mandate in tax legislation, as GOP senators did.

"We'll be asking our members where do they want us to be on that position. I suspect there will be strong support," he said.

The House-passed tax bill did not include repeal of the individual mandate, while the Senate bill did. The two chambers now must reconcile their versions of tax-reform legislation in a bicameral conference.

Twenty Republicans voted against the House's health-care bill in May, which included mandate repeal, though some of those members voted for the House's tax bill.

Read more here.

 

House conservatives push for repeal of ObamaCare mandate in final tax bill

The Republican Study Committee (RSC), a group of conservative Republicans in the House, is pushing for tax reform to include a repeal of the individual mandate.

"Including language to repeal this harmful policy will return personal decisions about health care choices to patients, fulfilling a key promise we have made to the American people," the RSC wrote in a letter being circulated among members.

In a letter to Ways & Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Senate Finance Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchGinsburg attends Medal of Freedom ceremony amid recovery from fall Utah New Members 2019 Congress braces for high-drama lame duck MORE (R-Utah), the RSC asks that the final package that emerges from a conference committee between the two houses contain a repeal of the mandate.

"Obamacare's coercive individual mandate represents perhaps the worst example of the federal government violating individual freedom and liberty -- which is why we have repeatedly promised to repeal it," the letter, which has about 50 signatures, says.

Read more here.

 

From The Hill's opinion pages

American taxpayers will be Alex Azar's shareholders -- let's hope he can serve them

Congress should massively ramp up funding for the NIH

Medicaid funds shouldn't be used to subsidize state taxes on health care

 

What we're reading

Orrin Hatch just made the Republican agenda startlingly clear (Vox)

Trump science job nominees missing advanced science degrees (AP)

The CHIP program is beloved. Why is its funding in danger? (The New York Times)

 

State by state

Abortion limits advance in Pennsylvania House (Associated Press)

New maternal mortality strategy relies on 'medical homes' (Stateline)

State Medicaid director Michael Heifetz resigning (Wisconsin State Journal)

Premera to reimburse Alaska state insurance program $25M (AP)