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Dems agree to deal to reopen government, fund CHIP. After a partial shutdown over the weekend that spilled into Monday, the Senate has passed a bill that would fund the government through Feb. 8 and extend the State Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years. The House is expected to quickly follow and get the bill to President Trump’s desk. In exchange for Democrats agreeing to provide the needed votes to pass a funding bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised Democrats a vote on immigration in the coming weeks. The shutdown was unusual in the sense that Republicans and Democrats broadly agreed they wanted to fund CHIP and find a way to keep immigrants who came here illegally as kids from being deported, but Senate Democrats wouldn’t agree on Friday to keep the government open while immigration talks continued. Republicans argued that immigration was irrelevant to government funding and should be dealt with in a separate track, and that any immigration deal would need to pass muster with the Trump administration and the House of Representatives. In the end, Democrats agreed to a mere assurance by McConnell that he would hold an immigration vote. Either way, the months-long uncertainty over CHIP funding has been resolved.
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Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins see shutdown deal as opening to help Obamacare insurers. A pair of Republican senators said ending the government shutdown could open the door to bringing up bills aimed at stabilizing Obamacare’s insurance exchanges by funneling more money to insurers. Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine said Monday that an end to the three-day shutdown would bring Congress closer to getting deals on a variety of issues that include two Obamacare stabilization bills. “My goal is to create a process to get us to yes on a lot of issues,” Graham said. “I think we are close to getting deals.” Graham referred to issues including military spending, immigration and the cost-sharing reduction payments to Obamacare insurers, known as CSRs. Collins said that negotiations with the House on the CSR deal are “going very well.” While Senate leadership and President Trump are on board, House Republicans have balked at the bills that they call a “bailout” of a law that is failing. But Collins is still optimistic. “The deadline slipped but the policy is what is important,” she said. Collins added that there is no reason to get the bills passed now. She said tax reform’s repeal of the individual mandate, which requires everyone to get insurance, does not go into effect until 2019.
Trump's 'very pro-choice' past is over, and abortion foes like what they see. Activists who oppose abortion doubted Donald Trump when he was a candidate because he had once described himself as "very pro-choice." A year into his presidency, however, they happily point to victories he has achieved for them. "With regard to life policy issues, Trump has remained absolutely true to his promises, and it’s an area of his administration that he should be really proud of," said Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life. The march celebrated its 45th year on Friday, and today marks the anniversary of Roe v. Wade that made abortion legal nationwide.Since taking the helm at the Oval Office, Trump has logged a range of victories for the anti-abortion movement, from appointing conservative judges to shielding people who oppose abortion or certain forms of contraception on religious or moral grounds. It's quite a list for Trump, who had difficulty articulating his position on abortion while running for office. "I consider him the unlikely top strategist of the pro-life movement, without question," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion political action committee.
GOP senators call for vote on 20-week abortion ban. Five Republican senators on Friday urged McConnell to schedule a vote on a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The bill, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, is unlikely to pass because it will need at least 60 votes in the Senate and does not have enough votes even if all 51 Republicans were to support it. But anti-abortion activists have urged leaders for a vote because they want to have senators on the record with their vote ahead of the midterm elections. "A vote would make our constituents immediately aware of the members of Congress who support elective late-term abortions and oppose extending legal protection to pain-capable unborn children nationwide," senators wrote in their letter. The letter was sent by Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Steve Daines of Montana and Roy Blunt of Missouri.
Paul Ryan: 'The pro-life movement is on the rise.' House Speaker Paul Ryan declared during the March for Life rally that "the pro-life movement is on the rise." His remarks capped off a week of actions by the Trump administration to offer protections for medical workers who have religious or moral objections to abortion, as well as guidance for states on how to restrict Medicaid funding from going toward Planned Parenthood. "Can we just thank God for giving us a pro-life president back in the White House?" said Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, before the crowd gathered on the National Mall. Before he spoke, the House passed the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Act, which would hold any healthcare provider at the scene criminally accountable if they fail to help newborn babies after a botched abortion. Ryan touted the bill, as well as others passed by the House, but not the Senate, that would cut off federal funding from facilities that also provide abortions, as well as a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. "We strive to do this not with judgment in our hearts, but with compassion and with love for all of the victims," Ryan said of the legislation.
House lawmakers search for new strategy on defunding Planned Parenthood. House Republicans are looking for ways to defund Planned Parenthood in the Senate after falling short of a major anti-abortion goal last year. While the House passed measures to defund the women’s health and abortion provider, they have languished in the Senate. That has caused frustration from lawmakers looking to amp up pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Several House lawmakers said they want McConnell to take up House appropriations bills, which require 60 votes in the Senate. The House passed 12 appropriations bills in September to fund the government, some of which included defunding Planned Parenthood. “If it fails, then at least we will have a recorded vote,” said Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio. Davidson spoke to the Washington Examiner while attending the March for Life, where defunding Planned Parenthood was a major talking point.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor treated by paramedics for low blood pressure. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was tended to by paramedics at her District of Columbia home for "symptoms of low blood sugar" Friday morning, a Supreme Court spokeswoman said. “Justice Sotomayor experienced symptoms of low blood sugar at her home this morning,” Kathy Arberg, a spokeswoman for the court, told the Washington Examiner. “She was treated by D.C. Emergency Medical Services and is doing fine.” Arberg said Sotomayor, 63, came to work and “resumed her usual schedule.” The justices met Friday in their weekly closed-door conference. Sotomayor was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a child. She told Diabetes Forecast magazine in a 2013 interview she carries with her glucose tablets and a blood glucose meter, and is “super vigilant” when in court.
HHS extends emergency declaration for the opioid crisis. HHS announced in a notice posted Friday that it was extending its “public health emergency” designation for the opioid crisis. The public health emergency declaration must be renewed every three months or it expires. The White House has said that it expects to release a funding proposal, but Congress also has not coalesced around an amount. Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, both of New Hampshire, have asked for $25 billion over two years.
Top Democrat requests ethics investigation into Medicaid chief Seema Verma. Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, is asking for an investigation into whether Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma has violated ethical obligations in the handling of Medicaid waivers from states. In a letter sent to the HHS general counsel, the Oregon Democrat wondered about possible violations by Verma in how she handled waivers from states that had worked with her when she held a private consulting business, SVC Inc. She vowed that as CMS administrator she would recuse herself from working on certain waivers or would seek written permission in cases where she would be involved. Wyden also asked the HHS counsel, Robert Charrow, to describe the steps that his office takes to make sure Verma complies with her ethics agreements and whether she sought exemptions when she spoke to governors in each state. HHS said in an email to the Washington Examiner that it had received similar inquiries from Wyden before, and that Verma had received limited authorizations for a number of states.
The Hill HHS extends Trump’s emergency declaration on opioids
Politico Religious activists on the rise in Trump’s health department
Associated Press Deportation fears have legal immigrants avoiding healthcare
NPR In Trump’s first year, anti-abortion forces make strides
Wall Street Journal CDC to scale back work in dozens of countries amid funding worries
STAT News Did the government overpay for hundreds of drugs? It’s complicated
TUESDAY | Jan. 23
10 a.m. 430 Dirksen. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on public health threats. Details.
THURSDAY | Jan. 25
Jan. 25-26. Ronald Reagan Building. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission’s January meeting. Details.
Jan. 25-27. Hyatt Regency. Families USA Health Action Conference. Details.
10 a.m. SD-342 Dirksen. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on “Combating the Opioid Crisis: Exploiting Vulnerabilities in International Mail.” Details.
2 p.m. Commonwealth Fund Teleconference on association health plans. Details.