Lawmakers Announce Bids for Forthcoming Leadership Elections

Following the elections on Tuesday, lawmakers quickly moved to announce their intentions to seek leadership positions in the 116th Congress. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) seeks to return as Speaker of the House despite a growing number of newly elected Democrats expressing their opposition to her. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) plans to stay in the number two position of Majority Leader, while James Clyburn (D-S.C.) will have to overcome a challenge from seven-term Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) if he wishes to stay in the number three position of Majority Whip. Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) is in a contest to lead the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) along with Reps. Denny Heck (D-WA), Susan DelBene (D-WA) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY). Current DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján is running to be Assistant Democratic Leader against Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Hakeem Jeffries are running for Democratic Caucus Chairman.

Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has the endorsement of Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to lead the Republican caucus, given Ryan’s retirement at the conclusion of the 115th Congress. McCarthy circulated a Dear Colleague letter last week announcing his bid for Minority Leader. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a top voice of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, is also jockeying for the position. Jordan argues that the party needs fresh leadership to win back the House in 2020. House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) announced that she will not seek another term in leadership next congress. She instead intends to focus on pursuing a ranking member position on an Energy and Commerce subcommittee. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) announced last week that she will run for McMorris Rodger’s current position. Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), member of the Republican Study Committee, is expected to run for GOP Conference Vice Chairman. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) plans to run for Minority Whip.

Closed-door GOP leadership elections will be held this week. Candidates will need to secure only a simple majority of votes in a secret ballot. House Democratic leadership elections are expected to occur during the last week of November.

AG Jeff Sessions Resigns at Request of President

Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned at the request of President Trump last week. Sessions’ departure calls into question the status of the probe led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The President had frequently criticized Sessions in recent months for recusing himself from the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. Matt Whitaker, Chief of Staff at the Department of Justice (DOJ), has been named Acting Attorney General and will take charge of overseeing the probe from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The President has said he will nominate a permanent successor for attorney general at a later date. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and U.S. Appeals Court Judge Edith Jones are reportedly under consideration for the position.

Opioid-Related News Update

A multi-district litigation case in a Cleveland federal court is underway to determine whether government claims for billions of dollars in recovery for opioid-response costs will stand. Pharmacy defendants CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart, alongside opioid distributors and manufacturers, argue that the claims should be tossed because the municipalities are too far removed from any harm connected to dispensing. Local government plaintiffs have filed a brief with Judge Dan Polster arguing that the claims should stand.

CMS Plans New Rules for Medicaid MCOs, Bundled Payments

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to overhaul the 2016 regulatory framework for the Medicaid managed care delivery system, according to a new Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM). The administration aims to give state Medicaid programs and managed care organizations (MCOs) more flexibility and to increase transparency, reduce administrative burden, and promote innovation. The NPRM would ease network adequacy standards and relax the rules for plan marketing materials. CMS is also proposing to allow states flexibility in setting rate ranges for capitated payments.

In related news, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar announced that the Administration plans to launch new payment and service delivery models for cardiac care and radiation oncology and will also look to expand such models to other clinical areas. The Secretary touted the importance of experimentation with episodic bundles through both mandatory and voluntary models during the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative conference last week.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings and Meetings

House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Technology Modernization hearing “180-Day Review of the Electronic Health Record Modernization Program;” 10:00 a.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.; November 14

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing to examine reducing health care costs, focusing on improving affordability through innovation; 10:00 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.; November 28

November 12, 2018: | Page 1 Page 2



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