Health Brief: Poll Finds Opposition to AHCA Has Doubled Among GOP Voters Since April

Washington Brief

  • Opposition to the House GOP health care bill has nearly doubled among Republican voters from 16 percent at the end of April to 30 percent in June. Among all voters, disapproval of the bill has soared to 50 percent, up from 37 percent at the end of April. (Morning Consult)
  • Rank-and-file Senate Republicans will meet on Thursday morning to get their first look at the draft language of their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The meeting will give GOP senators an early read on whether the planned Obamacare repeal vote next week will be successful. (Politico)
  • Several Republican senators are seeking to offset spending cuts to Medicaid in the GOP bill by adding as much as $4.5 billion each year for the next 10 years in new funding for addiction treatment. But addiction experts say the proposal is inadequate at tackling the full scale of health issues that can emerge from addiction. (Stat News)

Business Brief

  • Oscar Insurance Corp. said it plans to  expand its offerings in the Obamacare marketplaces next year, as most health insurers face a Wednesday deadline to submit their rates for 2018 health care plans. The insurance startup plans to offer coverage for the first time in Tennessee, re-enter New Jersey’s marketplace and expand the regions where it sells ACA plans in California and Texas. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • The Trump administration made Obamacare payments that are critical to insurers in June, but officials refuse to say whether it will continue to make the payments going forward. (The Hill)
  • Despite President Donald Trump’s fiery rhetoric against drug makers during the campaign, a draft of an executive order on drug prices contains a number of proposals that have long been championed by pharmaceutical industry. (The New York Times)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

BIO International Convention 8 a.m.
FleishmanHillard event on health care in Trump era 11:30 a.m.
BIO International Convention 8 a.m.
Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on NIH budget request 10 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on CHIP 9 a.m.



Opposition to AHCA Has Doubled Among GOP Voters Since April
Jon Reid, Morning Consult

Opposition to the House-passed health care bill has nearly doubled among Republican voters since the end of April, according to Morning Consult polling. In a new Morning Consult/POLITICO survey, 3 out of 10 Republican voters said they disapprove of the House GOP’s bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Fate of Obamacare repeal uncertain in Senate
Burgess Everett and Jennifer Haberkorn, Politico

Senate Republicans are planning a pivotal meeting for Thursday morning to start the whipping process for Obamacare repeal, according to two sources familiar with the process. Mitch McConnell’s current whip count to repeal Obamacare is far short of 50 votes.

G.O.P. Rift Over Medicaid and Opioids Imperils Senate Health Bill
Robert Pear and Jennifer Steinhauer, The New York Times

A growing rift among Senate Republicans over federal spending on Medicaid and the opioid epidemic is imperiling legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act that Senate leaders are trying to put to a vote by the end of next week. President Trump had urged Republican senators to write a more generous bill than a House version that he first heralded and then called “mean,” but Republican leaders on Tuesday appeared to be drafting legislation that would do even more to slow the growth of Medicaid toward the end of the coming decade.

Addiction experts say GOP proposal to replace Medicaid spending won’t help
Erin Mershon, Stat News

Addiction experts have warned that Republican proposals to dramatically cut Medicaid funding could worsen the nation’s growing opioid crisis. So a pair of GOP senators is pushing for a solution: a massive influx of money for treatment to help stave off those effects.

Secrecy boosts GOP’s Obamacare repeal push
Adam Cancryn, Politico

Senate Republicans are closer than ever to voting to repeal Obamacare after three months of work that’s unparalleled in its secrecy and speed. They’re unapologetic, though. Because so far, it’s working.

Georgia race: Republicans jittery about health care breathe sigh of relief

Karen Handel’s victory in the Georgia special House election Tuesday night has House Republicans who recently voted for a deeply unpopular bill to repeal Obamacare breathing a sigh of relief. And it will now offer some cover — even political reassurance — to Senate Republicans who are gearing up to cast similar votes next week.

Democratic Senators Say Opioid Treatment Would Take Hit Under GOP Health Plan
Sharon Nunn, The Wall Street Journal

A pair of Senate Democrats in states hard hit by opioid addiction say the Republican effort to replace the Affordable Care Act would undermine efforts to battle the epidemic, arguing the prospect of extra opioid treatment funding wouldn’t sufficiently replace insurance coverage that would be lost if Medicaid’s expansion were reversed. Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) released a report arguing Republican-proposed cuts to Medicaid funding would worsen the country’s growing opioid problem because many people use their Medicaid insurance to cover addiction treatment.

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski Faces Hard Sell on Health Bill
Kristina Peterson and Stephanie Armour, The Wall Street Journal

Senate Republicans’ quest for the 50 votes needed to pass their health-care bill has put them in hot pursuit of one duck-hunting, occasionally defiant GOP senator: Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) confirmed Tuesday that the bill’s text would be released Thursday and a vote held likely next week, triggering an intensified effort to secure the votes of senators like Ms. Murkowski.

Oil Slide Weighs on Stocks; Haven Assets Advance: Markets Wrap
Samuel Potter, Bloomberg News

Global stocks retreated and the yen strengthened after oil tumbled into a bear market on concern a supply glut will persist. Havens including bonds, the yen and gold gained.


Insurance Startup Oscar Raises Its Bet on Affordable Care Act
Anna Wilde Mathews, The Wall Street Journal

Insurance startup Oscar Insurance Corp. said it plans to expand its offerings in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, as insurers face a federal deadline Wednesday for initial filings to participate in the health law’s exchanges next year. Oscar, which has been under a spotlight partly because of its tie to the Trump administration, said it aims to begin selling ACA plans in Tennessee for the first time in 2018, and re-enter the exchange in New Jersey, where it sat out this year.

Trump administration pays June ObamaCare subsidies to insurers
Jessie Hellmann, The Hill

The Trump administration has made critical ObamaCare payments to insurers for the month of June but won’t provide any certainty about whether they’ll continue in the future. The payments, known as cost sharing reduction subsidies, reimburse insurers for providing discounts to low-income patients.

Health plans slam Medicaid cuts in emerging Senate bill
Nathaniel Weixel, The Hill

Ten of the country’s largest health plans are calling on Senate Republicans to reconsider the Medicaid changes under discussion as part of ObamaCare repeal. The proposals being discussed “do not enact meaningful, needed repairs to the ACA,” the plans said in a letter to both Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), referring to the Affordable Care Act.

Humana is holding up the Walgreens-Rite Aid merger
Bob Herman, Axios

Health insurer Humana is trying to kill a subpoena from the Federal Trade Commission tied to the agency’s review of Walgreens Boots Alliance’s $7 billion acquisition of Rite Aid. But the FTC is demanding the D.C. district court require Humana to cough up the documents by June 26, according to court filings.


CMS gives more small practices a pass on MACRA
Virgil Dickson, Modern Healthcare

The CMS wants to exempt more small providers from having to comply with MACRA. Physician practices with less than $90,000 in Medicare revenue or fewer than 200 unique Medicare patients per year would be exempt under the new draft rule released Tuesday.

The New War On Sepsis
Anna Gorman, Kaiser Health News

Dawn Nagel, a nurse at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif., knew she was going to have a busy day, with more than a dozen patients showing signs of sepsis. They included a 61-year-old mechanic with diabetes.

Pharma, Biotech and Devices

Draft Order on Drug Prices Proposes Easing Regulations
Sheila Kaplan and Katie Thomas, The New York Times 

In the early days of his administration, President Trump did not hesitate to bash the drug industry. But a draft of an executive order on drug prices appears to give the pharmaceutical industry much of what it has asked for — and no guarantee that costs to consumers will drop.

FDA to Clear Path for Drugs Aimed at Cancer-Causing Genes
Anna Edney and Michelle Cortez, Bloomberg News

For years, doctors have identified cancers by the affected body part: lung, breast, kidney. Now, in a long-awaited move, U.S. drug regulators will simplify the approval of treatments targeting specific gene mutations that can spur tumors in a variety of organs.

Mylan, embattled maker of EpiPen, faces a crucial test as angry investors plot to oust CEO
Ed Silverman, Stat News

This is not just another shareholder revolt. Mylan, which sells EpiPen, holds its annual shareholder meeting in the Netherlands on Thursday.

Drugmaker Mylan gets boost from unlikely source: coal
Michael Erman, Reuters

Mylan N.V. is best known for producing EpiPen emergency allergy treatments and generic drugs. But a non-pharmaceutical offering – refined coal – has quietly generated hundreds of millions of dollars of tax credits for the company over the last six years that have boosted its bottom line, according to a Reuters review of company filings.

Health IT

MACRA proposal would ease EHR burden for docs, but not hospitals
Rachel Z. Arndt, Modern Healthcare

Although the CMS today proposed giving physicians a yearlong reprieve before having to upgrade their certified electronic health record system, hospitals may still be on the hook. The agency today proposed easing some requirements for physicians under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, including allowing them to continue using the 2014 certified version of their EHR.

A Message from PhRMA:

This week, at the Aspen Institute’s Spotlight Health, America’s biopharmaceutical companies will show how new discoveries and bold advancements are changing the way we treat life-altering diseases. Our 360° immersive video experience will take you inside a biopharmaceutical lab, where amazing discoveries are being made in science through the use of genomics-based research. You can learn more about the new era of medicine at

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Outcomes-Based Drug Contracts Do Not Move Us Closer to Value
Anna Kaltenboeck and Peter B. Bach, Morning Consult 

Polls show that high drug prices are voters’ No. 1 concern in health care. Unsurprising, given that the U.S. ranks highest both in drug spending and in patients stopping their medications because they are unaffordable.

John Kasich and John Hickenlooper: Another one-party health-care plan will be doomed to failure
John R. Kasich and John W. Hickenlooper, The Washington Post

The fate of America’s health-care system, the focus of our nation’s most important — and most heavily politicized — public-policy debate, is in the hands of the Senate, where senators get their turn to find a balanced and sustainable approach to health-care reform. It is clear that the bill passed by the House in May will not meet the challenges of our health-care system.

Republicans see Medicaid as welfare. Most Americans don’t
Drew Altman, Axios

Republicans want to roll back the Medicaid expansion, cap federal Medicaid spending increases, and add work requirements, drug testing, time limits, copays and premiums to some state Medicaid programs. But almost no one else wants to do these things.

The Health Care of Millions Depends on a Few Senators
The Editorial Board, The New York Times

We do not know a lot about what is in the health care bill that Republicans are trying to rush through the Senate, but what we do know suggests it will be as bad or worse than the dreadful legislation that the House passed in May. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, is doing everything he can to keep the public in the dark about his plan to undo major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

The real reason Republicans can’t answer simple questions about their health care bill
Ezra Klein, Vox

On Friday, my colleagues Tara Golshan, Dylan Scott, and Jeff Stein published a remarkable piece collecting interviews with eight congressional Republicans about their health care bill. They asked the simplest question possible: What problems do you think this bill will solve, and how do you think it will solve them?

A Message from PhRMA:

At the Aspen Institute’s Spotlight Health, scientists and leaders across the health care ecosystem are coming together to explore life-saving breakthroughs that are drastically changing the lives of patients. We have entered what is truly the new era of medicine, where ideas as wild as harnessing the body’s immune system to fight off disease have come to fruition. Learn more about the bold advancements that are transforming modern medicine at

Research Reports

Ten Things to Know About Medicaid’s Role for Children with Behavioral Health Needs
Kaiser Family Foundation

Children with special health care needs have or are at increased risk for chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional conditions and also require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally. There are 11.2 million children with special health care needs as of 2009-2010, and 59% (6.4 million) of them have one or more emotional or behavioral difficulties, such as depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or autism spectrum disorders.

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