Health Brief: Malpractice Suits Would Be Harder to Win Under GOP Bill

Washington Brief

  • President Donald Trump’s renewed focus on health care highlights the complicated interplay between the GOP’s Affordable Care Act repeal legislation and planned tax bill. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • As the Trump administration promotes state waivers, Vice President Mike Pence’s approach to expanding Indiana’s Medicaid program under the ACA has emerged as the conservative model for reform. (Politico)
  • A dozen House Republicans who publicly backed Trump’s health care overhaul are being bolstered by a $3 million advertising campaign launched by Leaders of America First Policies, a pro-Trump nonprofit outfit. (The Washington Post)

Business Brief

  • The GOP’s ACA replacement plan would make it harder for low-income and older people to win medical malpractice lawsuits against defective drugs or devices. (The New York Times)
  • Some people will have a harder time obtaining health insurance next year, due to the Trump administration’s plan to cut Obamacare’s open enrollment period and place curbs on special enrollment periods. (The Associated Press)
  • Taxes are due tomorrow, as well as a fine for people who fail to get health insurance under the ACA. (Kaiser Health News)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

No events scheduled
Bipartisan Policy Center event on patient treatment options 10 a.m.
No events scheduled
CSIS hosts discussion on future of global health financing 2:30 p.m.
No events scheduled



Trump’s Renewed Focus on Health Bill Vexes GOP Tax Overhaul Strategy
Richard Rubin, The Wall Street Journal

President Donald Trump’s revived enthusiasm for tackling health-care legislation before tax policy has highlighted the complicated interplay between Republicans’ health-care overhaul and their planned tax bill. Mr. Trump signaled last week that one of the reasons he has reprioritized health care is that he was relying on savings from the health bill to bolster the tax plan.

Pro-Trump group launches a $3 million ad campaign to prop up House allies
Robert Costa, The Washington Post 

Hours before the Republican health-care plan fizzled last month, White House officials marched to the Capitol and urged party leaders to call for a vote on the House floor. Several of them later groused privately that they wanted a list of who was with President Trump and who was against him.

Two Republican lawmakers face anger, from their own voters, on health care
Sean Sullivan and Kelsey Snell, The Washington Post 

Inside a government building here, far-right Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) scolded his party’s leaders for rolling out an “ill-advised” health-care bill and blamed House Speaker Paul D. Ryan for the ensuing debacle. The next evening on a college campus nestled in the Rocky Mountains, moderate Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) held the House Freedom Caucus — to which Yoho belongs — culpable for the legislation’s defeat.

Funding Deadline Tests GOP Strategy
Lindsey McPherson, Roll Call

When Republicans kicked the fiscal 2017 spending deadline into April last December, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said they’d rather negotiate with incoming GOP President Donald Trump than the outgoing Democratic one. But now, congressional Republicans are talking about largely ignoring requests from the White House as they negotiate with Democrats over a spending bill to take the government off autopilot for the remaining five months of the fiscal year.

Do members of Congress pay for 100 percent of their health insurance?
Michelle Ye Hee Lee, The Washington Post 

The Fact Checker has been receiving lots of fact-check suggestions from readers who attended district town halls, in response to our new initiative to fact-check what members of Congress tell constituents during the April recess. Not surprisingly, some of the most heated exchanges at many of the town halls involved health care and the failed GOP replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

Treasuries Extend Gain as Dollar Drops; Gold Rises: Markets Wrap
Jeff Sutherland and Samuel Potter, Bloomberg News

Treasuries extended their rally as soft inflation data from the U.S. fed into markets after the long weekend, and the dollar fell. Lingering geopolitical concerns in Asia offset upbeat economic data from China, ensuring haven assets gained.


How Trump insurance changes could affect coverage next year
Tom Murphy, The Associated Press

A much tighter sign-up deadline and coverage delays will be waiting for some health insurance customers now that President Donald Trump’s administration has finished a plan designed to stabilize shaky insurance markets. Shoppers will have a shorter time period to choose a 2018 plan and a harder time enrolling outside that window if they lose a job or have some other special circumstance that affects their coverage.

Pence’s Medicaid experiment confounds expectations on the left and right
Rachana Pradhan, Politico

When former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence embraced Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion with conservative twists — such as requiring enrollees to contribute to their care — critics lamented poor people would be locked out while backers cheered the program’s focus on personal responsibility. Neither side’s expectations were quite borne out.

In Alaska, anxiety grows as debate over health care rages
Becky Bohrer and Rachel D’Oro, The Associated Press

Going without health insurance is a risk. Going without it in Alaska can be a gamble of a much higher order, for this is a place unlike anywhere else in the U.S., a land of pitiless cold, vast expanses and dangerous, back-breaking work such as pulling fishing nets from the water or hauling animal carcasses out of the woods.

U.S. Health Care Wrestles With The ‘Pre-Existing Condition’

For most of his life, Carl Goulden had near perfect health. He and his wife, Wanda, say that changed 10 years ago. Carl remembers feeling, “a lot of pain in the back, tired, fatigue, yellow eyes — a lot of jaundice.”

Tax Day Is Choke Time For Health Insurance, Too
Julie Rovner, Kaiser Health News

Your federal income taxes are due April 18 and, likely for several million people, so is a fine for failing to get health insurance. Despite a lengthy debate, Congress has not yet acted on a bill to repeal portions of the Affordable Care Act.

Grasping For The Middle Ground On Obamacare
Emily Bazar, Kaiser Health News

Joel Hay, a professor at the University of Southern California, describes his political views as “conservative, free market.” But in a counterintuitive twist, his proposal to fix the Affordable Care Act would expand the largest source of public health coverage in the country: Medicaid.


A pain in the night and a harrowing drive: A crisis in rural health care puts mothers-to-be on a risky road
Casey Ross, Stat News

The pain started at midnight. Clare Shirley shuffled through the darkness to the bathroom.

Doctors have decades of experience fighting “fake news.” Here’s how they win.
Julia Belluz, Vox

Long before Hilda Bastian was a health researcher, she endorsed a practice she believes may have cost lives. “I think people died because of me,” she said recently. “And I’ll spend my whole life trying not to do it again and to make amends.”

Pharma, Biotech and Devices

G.O.P. Bill Would Make Medical Malpractice Suits Harder to Win
Robert Pear, The New York Times

Low-income people and older Americans would find it more difficult to win lawsuits for injuries caused by medical malpractice or defective drugs or medical devices under a bill drafted by House Republicans as part of their plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. The bill would impose new limits on lawsuits involving care covered by Medicare, Medicaid or private health insurance subsidized by the Affordable Care Act.

Senior Republicans, Democrats Reach Deal on FDA User Fee Reauthorization
Jon Reid, Morning Consult 

Top Republicans and Democrats in Congress have reached a preliminary deal to extend funding for several programs that are crucial to the approval of new drugs and medical devices in the United States. The deal announced Friday would reauthorize four user fee agreements that drug and medical device makers and the Food and Drug Administration depend upon to get products approved.

U.S. FDA declines to approve Eli Lilly and Incyte arthritis drug Olumiant
Toni Clarke and Ankit Ajmera, Reuters

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday declined to approve a new drug for rheumatoid arthritis made by Eli Lilly and Co and partner Incyte Corp, the companies said on Friday. The U.S. FDA indicated that additional clinical data was needed to determine the most appropriate doses of the drug, Olumiant, known also as baricitinib, and to further characterize safety concerns across treatment arms.

Can We Tax Away The Opioid Crisis?
Pauline Bartolone, Kaiser Health News

California lawmakers this month will consider legislation that would impose a tax on prescription opioids such as OxyContin and Norco to raise money for addiction treatment and prevention programs. The proposal, introduced by California Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), would not levy the tax directly on consumers but rather on opioid manufacturers and wholesalers, who would pay 1 cent per milligram at the drug’s first point of sale.

Health IT

Color Genomics aims to meld tech smarts with medical mindset
Ina Fried, Axios

As chief medical officer for Color Genomics, Jill Hagenkord sees her job as harnessing the smarts of the tech industry while explaining some of the practical realities of the health care field. “I feel sometimes like I am the grown up in room,” Hagenkord, who previously worked at 23andMe, told Axios. “I try to show them where the bumpers are, where the big bright lines are… I help them pick their battles…There’s conventions you can break and then there’s laws you can’t break.”

A Message from the College of American Pathologists:

Pathologists are physicians whose diagnoses drive care decisions made by patients, primary care physicians, and surgeons. Watch as Dr. Jiang navigates the high stakes of diagnosis.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Ensure Medicare Access to Blood and Marrow Transplants for Seniors with Cancer
Krishna Komanduri, Morning Consult 

Last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services enacted a significant policy change improving access to blood and marrow transplants for Medicare patients diagnosed with life-threatening blood cancers. The change came in the form of a Medicare rule on how outpatient blood and marrow transplants are reimbursed by the federal health care program beginning on Jan. 1, 2017.

Does Trump want to be the president who broke health care?
The Editorial Board, The Washington Post 

“Obamacare is dead next month if it doesn’t get that money,” President Trump told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday in a barely veiled threat to defund a crucial part of the Affordable Care Act. The president delivered this threat even though he has no viable replacement plan. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), the president said, “should be calling me and begging me to help him save Obamacare.”

The FDA’s Pizza Minders
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

The Food and Drug Administration can’t possibly fulfill all of the responsibilities it claims to have, and here’s one way the Trump Administration can set better priorities: Direct the agency to end its effort to inform Americans that pizza contains calories. An FDA rule to take effect May 5 requires chain restaurants to post calorie counts on menus.

A Message from the College of American Pathologists:

Pathology is an integral part of surgery. Pathologists provide answers to key questions: Is a lesion benign or malignant? Has it spread? Is more testing needed?

Watch as Dr. Atkinson supports Kathy and her care team from biopsy to diagnosis.

Research Reports

How the Growing Gap in Life Expectancy May Affect Retirement Benefits and Reforms
Alan J. Auerbach et al., The National Bureau of Economic Research

Older Americans have experienced dramatic gains in life expectancy in recent decades, but an emerging literature reveals that these gains are accumulating mostly to those at the top of the income distribution. We explore how growing inequality in life expectancy affects lifetime benefits from Social Security, Medicare, and other programs and how this phenomenon interacts with possible program reforms.