Events Calendar (All Times Local)
Senate GOP reins in expectations for killing Obamacare
Senate Republicans are aggressively trying to rein in expectations for their Obamacare repeal effort, wary of blowing a deadline or falling short of 50 votes on a promise that has driven the GOP’s political strategy for much of the past decade. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is still aiming for an Obamacare repeal vote in June, though his lieutenants acknowledge that deadline could slip into July.
Trump, Pence to meet with GOP senators on ObamaCare repeal
President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will meet with 13 GOP senators on Tuesday to discuss the status of ObamaCare repeal efforts in the upper chamber, a White House spokesperson told The Hill. Senators expected to attend the meeting at the White House include five from Medicaid expansion states: Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio,) Pat Toomey (Pa.), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Tom Cotton (Ark.).
Republican Senators Unaware of Health Care Details
Several Republican senators have no knowledge of the specific policy proposals GOP leadership is weighing for inclusion in the pending legislation to overhaul the U.S. health care system. The lack of widespread knowledge among members about the exact policy under review calls into question whether Republicans will be able to advance a bill before the Fourth of July recess, the timeline that GOP aides say Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is operating under.
Why Republicans might let their health care bill fail
Donald Trump’s top campaign promise of repealing Obamacare remains unfinished as the President heads into Washington’s sweltering summer months. With the Republican Party’s most pressing undertaking stuck in limbo, GOP senators and aides are beginning to wonder about one undesirable outcome: that the Senate takes a vote on a health care bill in the coming weeks knowing full well it could fail.
Obamacare is in real danger
The Affordable Care Act is in deep trouble — in Washington and large swaths of the country. Senate Republicans began to coalesce around the framework of a plan to repeal and replace the law last week.
Sens. Murray, Warren Request Probe of Whether Trump ‘Undermined’ Obamacare
Two Senate Democrats have sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services’s independent watchdog, asking for an investigation into Trump administration actions that could have “undermined” the Affordable Care Act. Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.), the top Democrat on the Senate’s Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), a member of the committee, requested that the department’s inspector general make public any actions taken by the Trump administration to destabilize the individual health-insurance market.
U.S. Stock-Index Futures Edge Higher as Fed Meeting Begins
U.S. index futures inched higher, signaling stock gains for the first time in three days, as investors awaited tomorrow’s Federal Reserve policy decision. S&P 500 contracts expiring in September gained 0.2 percent at 6:01 a.m. in New York.
Iowa Seeks to Revamp Affordable Care Act
Iowa officials are seeking federal permission to implement a plan that would alter major aspects of the Affordable Care Act in the state, in what could be a key test of the ability to modify the health law through executive authority. Trump administration officials said they were open to supporting the Iowa proposal to the extent possible under the current health law.
John Kasich Backs Slow Medicaid Rollback, but With More Money
Ohio’s influential Republican governor, John R. Kasich, said on Monday that he could accept a gradual phaseout of the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, but only if Congress provides states with more money than the House health care bill included and more flexibility to manage the health program for the poor. Mr. Kasich’s statement could prove significant as Senate Republicans try to find near unanimity on a bill to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.
America’s Health-Care Crisis Is a Gold Mine for Crowdfunding
Crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe and YouCaring have turned sympathy for Americans drowning in medical expenses into a cottage industry. Now Republican efforts in Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare could swell the ranks of the uninsured and spur the business of helping people raise donations online to pay for health care.
Obamacare enrollment slides to 10.3 million
Some 10.3 million people actually enrolled in Obamacare, as of mid-March, Trump administration officials said Monday. That’s down from the 12.2 million who signed up for coverage when open enrollment ended on January 31.
The tiny health insurance company holding Obamacare together
Across broad swaths of the Midwest, the fate of the Affordable Care Act increasingly rests on the shoulders of a small nonprofit health insurance plan headquartered in suburban Minneapolis. Medica is not a household name.
Not-for-profit health insurers warn Medicaid cuts would endanger essential care-management programs
Not-for-profit health insurers warned Monday that federal Republican lawmakers’ proposed Medicaid funding cuts would endanger programs essential to caring for members who are elderly, disabled or suffering from substance use disorders. Vulnerable Medicaid members would go without necessary care and some would even lose coverage, driving up the cost of uncompensated care at hospitals throughout the states, medical directors at regional health plans Geisinger Health Plan and UCare said during a teleconference organized by the Alliance of Community Health Plans, which represents not-for-profit insurers.
Health groups band together to highlight concerns with House Obamacare repeal
Eight influential healthcare and consumer advocate groups are partnering to their highlight concerns about the House-passed ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill. As the Senate works to dismantle ObamaCare, the groups plan to host events in four states — Ohio, Colorado, Nevada and West Virginia — aimed at showcasing the need for affordable and adequate healthcare.
Pharma, Biotech and Devices
Supreme Court speeds copycat biologic drugs to market
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday cut the time it will take for copycat versions of biologic drugs to get to the market in a pivotal ruling about an expensive class of medicines that can yield billions of dollars in sales for drug companies. The justices, in a 9-0 ruling, overturned a lower court’s decision that had prevented Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis AG (NOVN.S) from selling its copycat version of California-based Amgen Inc’s (AMGN.O) Neupogen until six months after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it.
Seizing on Opioid Crisis, a Drug Maker Lobbies Hard for Its Product
The ads have been popping up on billboards, buses and subways and in glossy magazines, with portraits of attractive men and women and a simple question in bold letters: What is Vivitrol? Five years ago, Vivitrol was a treatment for opioid addiction that was struggling to find a market.
Q&A: Pharma and PBMs are in a ‘two-step dance’ that raises drug prices
Over the past several months, drug makers have been particularly vocal in blaming pharmacy benefit managers — the middlemen who negotiate favorable insurance coverage for medicines — for rising prices. PBMs and insurers, in turn, blame drug makers. The truth lies somewhere in between, according to Linda Cahn, a consultant who advises health plans and employers on PBM contract negotiations.
CMS may have mistakenly paid $729 million in EHR payments
The CMS may have paid providers more than $729 million in incentive payments for electronic health record systems that didn’t comply with federal standards, according the HHS Inspector General’s office. Approximately 500,000 providers participated in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, an incentive program for using certified EHR technology.
A Message from PhRMA:
Key finding from investigation led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh: Former law enforcement, FDA, DEA and FBI officials agree “Drug importation proposals would worsen the opioid crisis.” Read the full report.
Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives
Don’t Leave Them Waiting: How to Bring New Cancer Drugs to Kids
My mom just got home from the hospital. She received excellent care, including round-the-clock infusions of antibiotics that saved her life.
The Senate Hides Its Trumpcare Bill Behind Closed Doors
A coterie of Republicans is planning to have the Senate vote before July 4 on a bill that could take health insurance away from up to 23 million people and make changes to the coverage of millions of others. And they are coming up with the legislation behind closed doors without holding hearings, without consulting lawmakers who disagree with them and without engaging in any meaningful public debate.
The Halfhearted Opposition to the G.O.P.’s Health Care Misery
The Republican health care bill now sneaking its way through the Senate has a good chance of becoming law, even though it would do miserable damage. And it has a good chance partly because some of the bill’s most influential opponents have not had the courage of their convictions.
The FDA takes a stand against an opioid that fueled an epidemic
Opioids continue to ruin lives, and end them, in Maryland. New official figures show that 2,089 people died from drug and alcohol overdoses last year, a 66 percent increase over 2015.
It’s time to make it legal for Americans to order prescription drugs from abroad
Every day, countless people across America order prescription drugs from pharmacies in other countries as they hunt for something increasingly elusive — affordable medications. But there’s a problem.
A Message from PhRMA:
Did you know? The government has authority to allow drug importation if the secretary of HHS certifies imports would not threaten the health and safety of Americans and would generate cost savings for consumers. To date, no secretary – Democrat or Republican – has been able to do that. Get the facts.
Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity in 195 Countries over 25 Years
The prevalence of overweight and obesity is increasing worldwide. Epidemiologic studies have identified high body-mass index (BMI, the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters) as a risk factor for an expanding set of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, many cancers, and an array of musculoskeletal disorders.