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Health Brief: Senate GOP Could Unveil Revised Health Care Bill This Week

Washington Brief

  • Senate Republican leaders hope to unveil a revised version of their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act later this week, though none of the expected changes so far appear likely to win over the 10 GOP senators who have publicly opposed the legislation. GOP leaders could then bring the updated bill to a vote as early as next week. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Senate Democrats are courting Republican governors, particularly those who helped expand Medicaid in their states, in their effort to kill the current health care bill. (The Washington Post)
  • The House is expected to take up legislation this week to renew a fee program that funds government review of new drugs and medical devices. But the reauthorization awaits action in the Senate, while Republicans try to coalesce behind a plan to overhaul Obamacare. (Bloomberg)

Business Brief

  • The Association for Community Affiliated Plans, which represents safety-net insurers, launched a six-figure radio ad buy urging centrist GOP Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio) and Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) to oppose any federal spending cuts to Medicaid. (Morning Consult)
  • Sen. Ted Cruz’s proposal to let insurers sell plans that do not adhere to Obamacare regulations would make the risk pool inherently unbalanced, which could further destabilize the nation’s insurance marketplaces, health care finance experts warn. (Politico)
  • Federal regulations imposed under Obamacare have severely limited the growth of physician-owned hospitals. (Washington Examiner)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Tuesday
Bipartisan Policy Center event on long-term care 10 a.m.
Capitol Hill briefing on pediatric research 10 a.m.
Wednesday
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on the opioid crisis 10 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on medical product makers 10:15 a.m.
Town hall on opioid crisis hosted by Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation 7 p.m.
Thursday
Bipartisan Policy Center event on state flexibility 10 a.m.
Friday
No events scheduled.

 

General

Senate Republicans Set Sights on Revised Health Bill
Kristina Peterson, The Wall Street Journal

Republicans returning to Washington on Monday said they hoped to produce a revised version of the Senate health bill later this week, though none of the expected changes so far appeared likely to win back sufficient support from the 10 GOP senators who have publicly opposed the bill. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Senate Republican, said a bill could emerge within days. “Hopefully soon,” Mr. Cornyn said. “And then we’ll vote on it next week.”

Senate Democrats seek new allies in effort to scuttle Obamacare overhaul: Republican governors
Juliet Eilperin, et al., The Washington Post

Senate Democrats have identified potential new allies in their effort to scuttle the current health-care proposal: Republican governors, particularly those who helped expand Medicaid in their states under the Affordable Care Act. Sen. Thomas R. Carper (Del.), who is leading the effort with the support of fellow Democrats, called “a couple dozen” senators and governors from both parties over the recess, he said in an interview, to say “this is a good time for us to hit the pause button in the Senate, and step back and have some good heart-to-heart conversations” about how to revise the 2010 law.

GOP senator: I need ‘a complete overhaul to get to a yes’ of the health care bill
Daniella Diaz and Ryan Nobles, CNN

Sen. Susan Collins told CNN she needs a “complete overhaul” of a health care bill during a quick interview in the Senate hallways on Monday. “It was really interesting being back home last week because the one and only (thing) that came up, no matter where I was, time and again, was health care,” she said about her trip back to Maine. “I do need a complete overhaul to get to a yes.”

Health Care’s Senate Mountain Stage
Niels Lesniewski, Roll Call

The front-runners have now formally entered a potentially bruising Republican Senate primary in West Virginia, even as the state’s incumbents are in the middle of the health care debate. Patrick Morrisey, the state attorney general, kicked off his widely expected campaign from a motel here in his home base in the Mountain State’s eastern panhandle.

Stocks Follow Crude Prices Lower as Dollar Climbs: Markets Wrap
Cecile Gutscher and Blaise Robinson, Bloomberg

Stocks fell in Europe as energy producers got caught in a downdraft in oil prices and reversed an earlier gain, Bonds extended a slump triggered by last week’s hawkish rhetoric from central bankers. WTI failed to break through $45 a barrel as gains swung to losses and added to building doubts over a risk-on rally and optimism over returning global growth.

Payers

Ad Campaign Urges Portman, Capito to Oppose Medicaid Cuts in Health Bill
Jon Reid, Morning Consult 

A trade group for safety-net health plans is launching a six-figure ad campaign urging two key Republican senators to oppose any legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act that includes cuts to Medicaid. The Association for Community Affiliated Plans is running radio ads this week targeting centrist GOP Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.

Conservatives bet on risky plan that could tank Obamacare markets
Paul Demko, Politico

Ted Cruz’s plan to give insurers freedom to sell plans that don’t comply with Obamacare’s insurance regulations may be conservatives’ last best chance to salvage the stalled Senate health care bill. But it might also send Obamacare insurance markets into a death spiral.

Foes of Obama-Era Rule Work to Undo Birth Control Mandate
Robert Pear, The New York Times

From the obscure perch of a backbench senator’s office, Katy Talento used to warn against what she saw as the health hazards of birth control pills — cancer, infertility and miscarriage. From his post at a Christian legal advocacy group, Matthew Bowman spent years attacking the requirement that most health insurance plans cover contraception under the Affordable Care Act.

Medicaid group pans key insurance provision of Senate GOP bill
Nathaniel Weixel, The Hill

A provision in the Senate GOP’s ObamaCare repeal bill that would penalize people for being uninsured wouldn’t be enough to prevent a “death spiral” in the insurance marketplace, according to safety-net insurance plans. In a letter sent Monday to Senate Republican leaders, the Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP) said the bill’s six-month “lockout” provision won’t be enough of an incentive “for consumers who otherwise would not purchase coverage.”

The missing ingredient in Rauner’s Medicaid Rx
Kristen Schorsch and Sabrina Gasulla, Crain’s Chicago Business

The Rauner administration’s push to control the cost of treating Illinoisans on Medicaid has hit a critical snag. The trouble stems from the state’s efforts to shift the bulk of its Medicaid population—about two-thirds of Illinois’ 3.2 million Medicaid recipients—to managed care plans run by private insurers.

McConnell’s claim that Senate GOP health bill would not ’cause anyone currently on Medicaid to come off it’
Michelle Ye Hee Lee, The Washington Post

A reader asked us to fact-check this claim, reported in an article by the West Kentucky Star about a luncheon speech McConnell delivered in Kentucky during the Fourth of July recess. The impact of the Senate GOP health-care bill on Medicaid enrollees and financing is one of the major points of debate in the Senate.

Crippling Medicaid Cuts Could Upend Rural Health Services
Virginia Anderson, Kaiser Health News

Each day as Ginger Peebles watches daughter Brenlee grow, she sees the importance of having a hospital close by that delivers babies. Brenlee’s birth was touch-and-go after Peebles realized something was wrong. “I couldn’t feel the baby move, and my blood pressure was sky-high,” said Peebles, a nurse.

Providers

Obamacare wounds doctor-owned hospitals
Kimberly Leonard, Washington Examiner

Sioux Falls Specialty Hospital in South Dakota is regularly full. Its doctors and nurses often have to work longer hours or perform elective surgeries such as hip or knee replacements on weekends.

Ankle industry rallies behind Medicare pay raise
Bob Herman, Axios

Large medical device companies and orthopedic surgeons are encouraging Department of Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price to lock in a proposal in which Medicare would pay significantly more for ankle replacement surgeries. The ankle industry’s heft is almost certain to make the pay raise official once the final rule is released within the next month.

Pharma, Biotech and Devices

Congress’s Other Health-Care Problem Awaits Action on ACA
Anna Edney, Bloomberg

Congress must renew a fee program that funds government review of new drugs and medical devices, but a legislative logjam over the Senate’s health-care overhaul stands in its way. Lawmakers need to sign off on the drug and device fees by the end of September or the program will lapse.

In rare move, FDA reverses course on drug developed by CEO with ties to Trump
Damian Garde, Stat News

The Food and Drug Administration has changed its tune on an experimental drug for a deadly rare disease, withdrawing a request that the company developing it run another clinical trial. The unusual move comes after President Trump met with the company’s CEO —and promised to speed up what he called a “slow and burdensome” process for drug approvals.

Considering the Side Effects of Drugmakers’ Money-Back Guarantees
Katie Thomas and Charles Orstein, The New York Times

More than a decade ago, Italy tried a novel approach to help bring down drug costs: asking pharmaceutical companies to return money to the national health system if some of their medicines failed to work as expected. The effort largely flopped.

Sanofi to buy vaccines biotech group Protein Sciences
Sudip Kar-Gupta, Reuters

French drugmaker and healthcare group Sanofi is to buy privately-held U.S vaccines biotech company Protein Sciences for an initial amount of $650 million, as Sanofi steps up its acquisition program after recently missing two large deals. Under the terms of the agreement, Sanofi will make an upfront payment of $650 million for Protein Sciences, and pay up to $100 million upon the achievement of certain milestones.

Health IT

Tech companies wage war on disease-carrying mosquitoes
Julie Steenhuysen, Reuters

American technology companies are bringing automation and robotics to the age-old task of battling mosquitoes in a bid to halt the spread of Zika and other mosquito-borne maladies worldwide. Firms including Microsoft Corp and California life sciences company Verily are forming partnerships with public health officials in several U.S. states to test new high-tech tools.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Time to Put Limits on Opioid Prescribing
Larry J. Merlo, Morning Consult 

Across the country, too many of us have experienced an alarming and heartbreaking trend — the growing number of people in our everyday lives who have been affected by the epidemic of opioid addiction and misuse. Whether it’s a colleague’s son or a neighbor’s sister, the heartbreaking stories about lives fractured by the grips of addiction are far too common.

Health Reform, Both Real and Conservative
David Leonhardt, The New York Times

The American health care system has two core problems. It’s the world’s most expensive, and it still leaves many people uninsured.

Why replacing Obamacare is so hard: It’s fundamentally conservative
Craig Garthwaite, The Washington Post

Republicans are engaged in a brutal civil war between hard-liners and moderates as they struggle to craft legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. The episode invites an almost existential question for the GOP: Why, after seven years of nearly endless war against Obamacare, is the party unable to deliver a more conservative policy that provides access to health care to a similar number of Americans?

How Trumpcare Dies
Brian Beutler, New Republic

One of the central challenges opponents of Trumpcare face is that they must constantly probe the bill for signs of life. Like a monster in a horror film, it predictably revives itself whenever the good guys let their guard down.

Gut Check: Will Senate Republicans Fulfill Core Obamacare Promise, Or Betray Voters?
Guy Benson, Townhall

I wrote a similar piece directed at House Republicans in March, before they finally rallied together to advance the process. Now, it’s the Senate’s turn.

Research Reports

The Implications of Cutting Essential Health Benefits
Blumberg L, and Holahan J, Urban Institute 

Analysis shows the EHBs covered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and targeted for cuts in repeal and replace legislation, represent less than 10 percent of total monthly premiums.