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Food stamp fight stalls farm bill. The House and Senate are fighting over food stamps. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program makes up most of the 2018 Farm Bill, and major differences in the way the House and Senate attempt to reform the program has stalled passage and put agricultural programs in danger of lapsing. “Eventually there is going to have to be an agreement,” Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, told reporters last week. Roberts said committee staff are working to smooth over minor differences between House and Senate bills, but some lawmakers on the Senate panel are now fearing the bill will remain unfinished this year in part because of the food stamp fight. In addition to food stamps, the bill authorizes farm policy and dozens of programs until 2023, including crop insurance, conservation and subsidy programs. Roberts said last week lawmakers have figure out what the path forward will be.
Democrats to force Senate vote this week on blocking Trump’s short-term plans. The Senate on Wednesday will take up a resolution that would block the Trump administration’s actions allowing the sale of short-term plans for longer periods of time. The resolution was introduced by Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and would need the support of at least two Republicans to pass. Baldwin has spoken with GOP centrists Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, but hasn’t secured a formal commitment, according to her office. The resolution faces a long shot in Congress because it would also need to pass the GOP-controlled House, and in order to overrule a presidential veto it would need a two-thirds majority. The move is being advanced through the Congressional Review Act, a law allowing Congress to undo federal regulations as long as they tackle them within a certain time period. The sale of short-term plans began in certain states earlier this month, and they don’t necessarily come with the same rules on providing coverage for a range of medical care or covering pre-existing conditions. Democrats have dismissed the coverage as “junk insurance” and another example of Trump’s “sabotage” on Obamacare. “Anyone who says they support health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions should support this resolution,” Baldwin said in a statement. “This is an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to protect people’s access to quality, affordable health care when they need it most.”
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Regulators face food fight over lab-grown meat. A food fight has been brewing over how the government should regulate animal tissue grown in labs. The prospect of lab-grown tissue has raised the hopes of animal welfare and environmental groups because it is created without slaughter and meant to substitute for traditional pork, beef, chicken, and fish. But divisions have emerged between the traditional meat industry, who are imploring the government to set rules out of concern for their own industry, and the companies creating the lab-grown foods, who fear that regulation could prevent their products from reaching consumers. Safety regulations have yet to be issued, but they are likely to include standards about how to grow the tissue, how to sign off on its safety, and how to label it in a way that consumers know what they're buying. “No one wants to have a 'gotcha' moment where they think they are eating one type of flesh and they find out they are eating another type of flesh," said Sarah Sorscher, deputy regulatory director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "We do think the labels should be very clear to people that what they are eating is different." But how exactly to label it has been a point of contention, as has the question over which government agency should play a role.
Pro-Obamacare group targets Susan Collins for vote on Brett Kavanaugh. The pro-Obamacare group Protect Our Care launched an ad Monday targeting Republican Susan Collins by anticipating a future in which the Supreme Court strikes down the healthcare law. The ad, which will launch online and on TV in Maine, is meant to punish the Maine senator for being one of the deciding votes to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. It imagines a future in 2019 or 2020 in which a case brought by Republican health officials makes it to the Supreme Court, striking down Obamacare in a 5-4 vote. "Maine Sen. Susan Collins cast the crucial vote confirming Kavanaugh to the court," the ad says. The ad is drawing attention to the Obamacare lawsuit, known as Texas v. Azar, which was heard by a federal judge on Sept. 5 and is awaiting a decision. It isn't yet known whether it will advance to the Supreme Court. "Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be a rubber stamp on his war on health care was a true test of Senator Collins’s commitment to health care," Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care, said in a statement. "Senator Collins failed that test, and Mainers will remember where she stood when the Court rules to rip health care away from us." Collins hasn't announced her future political plans but she will be up for re-election in 2020 if she decides to run for Senate again.
Rosen ad slams Heller for ‘lying’ on pre-existing conditions. A new ad from Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., who is looking to unseat Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., features people with pre-existing conditions calling Heller out for voting for the Republican healthcare plan to replace Obamacare. Heller voted against the GOP replacement bill but did vote for the “skinny repeal” that left protections for pre-existing illnesses in place. One of the women featured in the ad said that Heller is “lying about helping us.” The ad uses a clip in which Heller had said he would not vote for the plan, and then shows people in the ad talking about how he “broke his promise.”
NARAL ad campaign hits vulnerable House Republicans. NARAL Pro-Choice America, which supports abortion rights, has launched a $1 million ad campaign attacking Republican support for Kavanaugh. The ad declares that women are “under attack.” “The Republican Party takeover of our government has been devastating for women and families,” Sasha Bruce, senior vice president for campaigns and strategy at NARAL, said in a statement. "They have had their say, now it is time for us to have ours and vote them out."
Public support for marijuana legalization rises to record 62 percent. Sixty-two percent of the public believes marijuana use should be legalized, according to a poll published Monday by the Pew Research Center. That level of support is 1 percentage point higher than last year and the highest recorded by the pollster. Support for legalization has doubled since 2000. At the time, 31 percent of the public said that marijuana use should be legal. Marijuana is currently legal for recreational purposes in nine states and the District of Columbia, and 31 have legalized its use for medical purposes. Two more states — Michigan and North Dakota — will be putting the question of recreational legalization before voters during the midterm elections on Nov. 6. Missouri and Utah will face the same question over medical use. The Pew poll showed that views on the legalization of marijuana use varied according to age and political party. Legalization is most popular among millennials, with 74 percent in support. Gen Xers are second, with 63 percent of support, while just over half, or 54 percent, of Baby Boomers, say the use of marijuana should be legal. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to support legalization. Sixty-nine percent of Democrats say marijuana use should be legal, while 45 percent of Republicans say the same.
Kavanaugh could cement Trump's transgender military ban. Kavanaugh may be joining the Supreme Court just in time to help decide whether President Trump can, at least temporarily, put new restrictions on transgender military service, an advocacy group said on Monday. A federal appeals court in Portland, Ore., will hear a Trump administration appeal on Wednesday morning asking that a preliminary injunction be lifted so the Pentagon can enforce a policy barring many transgender people from enlisting while the issue is litigated. Four federal lawsuits have been filed and could go to trial sometime next year. Depending on the outcome of the appeal, the question of whether to lift the injunction and allow the Pentagon to move forward in the meantime could be appealed to the Supreme Court.
Ohio Obamacare insurers seek modest price hikes for 2019. Ohio’s Obamacare plans will increase rates by an average 6.3 percent for the 2019 coverage year, reflecting a pattern of modest state rate hikes. The state also said that the number of insurers offering plans in 2019 increased from eight this year to 10, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Ohio’s rate increases are also smaller than they were for 2018, when insurers raised rates by 21 percent. States announcing modest rate hikes for 2019 is a departure from massive rate hikes that most states made for the 2018 coverage year. Last week, Colorado raised prices by an average 5.6 percent for 2019, and Nevada raised their rates by 0.3 percent.
The Hill Ryan says ‘Medicare for all’ shows the Democratic party has gone off the rails
Wall Street Journal Healthcare crowds out jobs, taxes in midterm election ads
Bloomberg Republicans fought Obamacare. Now they’re trying to save it.
NPR Why are black women less likely to stick with a breast cancer follow-up treatment?
Idaho Press First TV spot in Medicaid expansion campaign focuses on tax dollars
Business Insider Merck CEO has an ominous warning for the middlemen who stand between drugmakers and patients
STAT news Questions about funding and purpose loom over foundation Congress created to help the FDA
TUESDAY | Oct. 9
Senate in session. House not in session until after the Nov. 6 midterm elections.
8:30 a.m. 2101 Constitution Ave. NW. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine meeting on “The Global Obesity Pandemic.” Agenda.
WEDNESDAY | Oct. 10
8 a.m. FDA White Oak Campus. Food and Drug Administration meeting of the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee. Details.
8:30 a.m. Kaiser Family Foundation. 1330 G St. NW. Alliance for Health Policy Summit on “Aging in America.” Agenda.
FRIDAY | Oct. 12
8 a.m. FDA White Oak Campus. Food and Drug Administration meeting of the Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee. Details.