Overnight Health Care: House GOP unveils package to delay ObamaCare taxes | DOJ, DEA back changes to law linked to opioid crisis | Governors push for children's health funding

Overnight Health Care: House GOP unveils package to delay ObamaCare taxes | DOJ, DEA back changes to law linked to opioid crisis | Governors push for children's health funding
© Greg Nash

House GOP unveils package to delay ObamaCare taxes

House Republicans on Tuesday unveiled a package of bills to delay a range of ObamaCare taxes, which could be acted on later this month.

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyOn The Money: Biden, Democratic leaders push for lame-duck coronavirus deal | Business groups shudder at Sanders as Labor secretary | Congress could pass retirement bill as soon as this year Top Democrat: Congress could pass retirement bill as soon as this year Momentum grows for bipartisan retirement bill in divided Congress MORE (R-Texas) led the announcement for the bills to delay ObamaCare's tax on medical devices for five years, on health insurance for two years, and the "Cadillac tax" on high-cost health plans for one year. The package would also eliminate penalties for employers who do not offer health insurance to their workers, under the employer mandate, through 2018.


The bills are only supported by Republicans at the moment, but they come after bipartisan negotiations with Democrats on delaying the taxes, a move that has support on both sides of the aisle. The package could be attached as part of a bipartisan deal on a year-end government funding bill.

The delay of these taxes would be a victory for industries, like medical device companies and health insurers, that have pushed against the taxes. Those groups are still pushing for full repeal eventually.

Read more here.


Actuaries warn of premium increases from repealing ObamaCare mandate

A group of insurance experts is warning Congress against repealing ObamaCare's individual mandate, saying the move would raise premiums and could cause insurers to drop out of the market.

The American Academy of Actuaries wrote to congressional leaders on Tuesday saying that "eliminating the individual mandate would lead to premium increases."

The Republican tax-reform bill which is nearing completion in Congress would repeal the ObamaCare mandate that people have health insurance or pay a fine.

Read more here.

DEA, DOJ back changes to law linked to opioid crisis

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Department of Justice both support changing a controversial law that led to the withdrawal of President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE's nominee to be the nation's drug czar earlier this year.

Rep. Tom MarinoThomas (Tom) Anthony MarinoWhy the North Carolina special election has national implications The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push Republican wins special House election in Pennsylvania MORE (R-Pa.) asked that his nomination be withdrawn after "60 Minutes" and The Washington Post in a joint report said a law he spearheaded through Congress had weakened the enforcement of the nation's drug policing laws, perhaps contributing to the opioid crisis.

Since that report, lawmakers have talked of changing or repealing the law, and on Tuesday, a key DEA official told a congressional panel that Justice and the DEA would like to see the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act changed.

Demetra Ashley, the acting assistant administrator of the DEA's Diversion Control Division, did not go into details on how the legislation should be changed, but said standards needed for the agency to suspend suspicious drug shipments should be relaxed.

Under the current law, the DEA must establish a "substantial likelihood of an immediate threat that death, serious bodily harm or abuse of a controlled substance will occur" in order to suspend shipments.

Read more here.

Bipartisan group of governors calls for swift CHIP reauthorization

A bipartisan group of governors is urging Congress to act quickly to reauthorize funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program.

In a letter led by Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), the governors said their states are running out of money, and urged lawmakers to find a bipartisan solution.

"Since its creation, CHIP has enjoyed strong bipartisan support. We encourage you to work across the aisle to find common ground that will allow this important program to continue and give the families who rely on CHIP the peace of mind of knowing that their children will be able to get the health care they need in the new year," the letter reads.

Federal funding for CHIP expired on Sept. 30 and while states have been able to use leftover funds in the interim, some will run out of money by the end of the year.

Read more here.


Kimmel features young son in plea for health-care funding

Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel on Monday brought his young son out on stage in an emotional plea urging viewers to call Congress about Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding.

"This is literally a life-and-death program for American kids," Kimmel said during ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" while holding his son, Billy.

Kimmel said he missed work last week due to his son's heart surgery, as he argued Congress should fully fund CHIP. Federal funding expired for the program at the end of September. Congress is expected to renew funds as early as this month, but the uncertainty has some states warning enrollees about the possibility of losing coverage if Congress does not act.

Read more here.

Dems call for Trump to extend ObamaCare deadline

Two top Senate Democrats are calling on the Trump administration to extend ObamaCare's sign-up period, arguing it is being cut off too soon this year before people have time to enroll.

The sign-up period is slated to end on Friday, after beginning Nov. 1, about half as long as it has been in previous years. Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenTwo more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers On The Money: Push for student loan forgiveness puts Biden in tight spot | Trump is wild card as shutdown fears grow | Mnuchin asks Fed to return 5 billion in unspent COVID emergency funds Grassley, Wyden criticize Treasury guidance concerning PPP loans MORE (Ore.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayNational reading, math tests postponed to 2022 amid coronavirus surge Democratic anger rises over Trump obstacles to Biden transition DOJ investigation into Epstein deal ends without recommended action MORE (Wash.), the top Democrats on the Senate committees overseeing health care, wrote to the administration on Tuesday calling for the period to be extended to Jan. 31.

Wyden and Murray argue the shorter enrollment period is made worse by the administration's "sabotage" of ObamaCare, such as cutting back on advertising and outreach.

Read more here.


Two GOP lawmakers call for end to ObamaCare program operating in only Arkansas

Two Republican lawmakers are calling for the elimination of a little-known ObamaCare program that costs the federal government $10 million a year.

Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump holds his last turkey pardon ceremony Overnight Defense: Pentagon set for tighter virus restrictions as top officials tests positive | Military sees 11th COVID-19 death | House Democrats back Senate language on Confederate base names Trump administration revives talk of action on birthright citizenship MORE (R-N.C.), chairman of the Government Operations subcommittee, and Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonLoeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus GOP Rep. Dan Newhouse tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced a bill Tuesday that would repeal ObamaCare's Multi-State Plan program.

The program, intended to create competition in the marketplaces, requires the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) contract with two national health plans, one which must be nonprofit, to compete with plans in every state.

However, the program has not been successful, with only one state -- Arkansas -- scheduled to participate next year.

Read more here.

Ex-CMS staffer buoys ObamaCare

Lori Lodes arrived at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) at a critical juncture for ObamaCare.

It was September 2014, approximately two months from the start of the second open enrollment season for the federal insurance marketplace. Technical glitches and crashes plagued the initial rollout of HealthCare.gov in 2013, frustrating consumers when they tried to shop online for health coverage. The headlines, such as  "How long to fix Obamacare tech problems? Long" and "ObamaCare's launch looked even worse from the inside," painted an ugly portrait of this core element of then-President Obama's health-care law.

"We had a lot to prove to the American people," Lodes, who ran outreach and public education for ObamaCare's marketplaces until March of last year, said in a recent interview with The Hill.

Within her first two weeks, she had written a seven-week plan detailing how the CMS would undo the public doubt left after the first open enrollment period. They began to make progress that second year, Lodes said.

Read more here.

GOP under pressure on bond issue in tax bill

Groups representing affordable housing, hospitals, airports and colleges are intensely lobbying House Republicans to defer to the Senate and retain a critical financing tool scrapped in their own tax plan.

The groups say eliminating tax-exempt private activity bonds (PAB) would dramatically limit the ability of nonprofit hospitals to perform much-needed renovations, of certain colleges to finance new dorms and heating plants, of developers to build desperately needed affordable housing and much more.

Overall, they argue the changes will be harmful to vulnerable communities, making critical capital projects more expensive and likely resulting in the need to scale them back.

Read more here.


What we're reading

FDA plans new medical-device approval processes (The Wall Street Journal)

Opioids after surgery left her addicted. Is that a medical error? (WBUR)

Senate Republicans are divided over whether to pursue Medicare cuts in 2018 (The Washington Post)


State by State

Following marijuana legalization, teen drug use is down in Colorado (The Washington Post)

Massachusetts farther along on health care affordability than others  (State House News Service)

Retiree health care changes headed to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder for signature (MLive)

From The Hill's opinion pages

Reauthorizing the children's health program is a fiscally smart decision