General medicine

The study shows that the House committee this week held a hearing on proposals for a single-payer health system, such as “Medicare for All;” therefore  featuring experts from the Congressional Budget Office. But it appears the enthusiasm for a dramatic overhaul of the nation’s health system is waning; as even some Democratic supporters clarify that they are in favor of more incremental changes.

Nation’s health system

Meanwhile; there’s a new push on Capitol Hill to raise the federal minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21. And some of that effort is coming from senators from tobacco states. Also this week; still more lawsuits are being filed challenging the Trump administration’s efforts to address reproductive health issues; including one suit from an anti-abortion family planning group.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner from Kaiser Health News; Joanne Kenen of Politico; Stephanie Armour of The Wall Street Journal and Kimberly Leonard of the Washington Examiner. Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast: Republicans are eager for House Democrats to hold hearings on the Medicare for All proposal or other single-payer options because it offers them an opportunity to rail against a government takeover of health care.

Trump administration’s efforts

Although Democrats have held two hearings on the issue of converting the U.S. health care system to a single; government-sponsored plan, it has not yet had a hearing on the actual Medicare for All bill introduced in the House. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the bill’s sponsor, demands a hearing.

The legislation from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) to increase the age for tobacco purchases from 18 to 21 follows similar actions in about a dozen states; including Texas, Arkansas and Virginia. Efforts to spare consumers from surprise medical bills  those that come when a patient gets services from a hospital or doctor outside their insurance network  appear to have enough momentum on Capitol Hill that a bill may be able to get through despite the frosty relationship between President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Surprise medical bills

Democratic-controlled states are using lawsuits to slow down the Trump administration’s plans to allow medical providers more flexibility to opt not to perform services they find morally wrong.  This has the potential to be a flash point with every change of administration; similar to the way Democratic and Republican White Houses often switch each other’s policies on funding for overseas groups that offer abortion counseling.