Good morning ... Hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving. Now back to work.
President Trump's opioid commission delivered more than 50 specific ideas to help combat the epidemic, involving more than a dozen agencies. But no one's in charge of implementing that overall plan — which means no one's accountable for its progress.
Be smart: Policy-specific "czars" can be a bit of a gimmick. But some experts tell me there's a strong case for giving one person the authority to spearhead an opioid response that will need to be far-reaching and multifaceted to be successful.
Why now? Looking at the report from Trump's opioid commission as well as the steps outside experts have recommended, it's obvious that this will be a complicated solution with a lot of moving parts.
Go deeper: What an "opioid czar" would do.
Sen. Susan Collins has said her vote on Republicans' tax overhaul might depend on Congress also passing two health care bills to make up for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate. She's mentioned the stabilization bill from Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray, as well as a reinsurance bill she introduced with Sen. Bill Nelson.
The bottom line: Neither bill would likely be strong enough to make up for the loss of the individual mandate — even if the mandate is, in fact, turning out to be weaker than its creators intended.
Reality check: Those two bills certainly are not both getting passed this week, before the Senate is expected to wrap up its tax debate. They may not pass at all – and may not do the trick even if they did pass.
Medicaid pays for more emergency room visits than any other insurance program, according to recent data from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The health insurance program for the poor covered about one-third of all ER visits in 2014 — roughly 44 million of them, up from 26.5 million in 2006.
Why it matters, per Axios' Bob Herman: The data are a good reminder the ACA has helped many previously uninsured people with their ER visits, which are very expensive.
The Senate HELP Committee meets Wednesday to hear from Alex Azar, the former Eli Lilly CEO whom Trump has nominated to take the reins at the Health and Human Services Department.
What to watch for: HELP won't formally send Azar's nomination to the Senate floor — that falls to the Finance Committee. But Azar this week will face some of the Democratic party's most liberal members and some of its most prominent voices on health policy (both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren sit on HELP).
What we're watching this week: Big week on Capitol Hill: The Senate Budget Committee meets Tuesday to begin moving Republicans' tax bill toward the floor, and the goal is to pass it before the end of the week. Last minute negotiations over the individual mandate, here we come!
HELP hearing on Azar's nomination Wednesday. HELP hearing on the opioid crisis Thursday. House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing Thursday on implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act.
What's on your radar? Let me know! email@example.com.