Health Brief: Trump Administration Will Pay ACA Subsidies

Washington Brief

  • The Trump administration will continue to pay Obamacare’s “cost-sharing” subsidies, a possible signal that they want insurers to stay in the market. (The New York Times)
  • The conservative Club for Growth is pressuring 10 moderate Republicans to get behind the GOP’s health care overhaul with a $1 million ad campaign set to launch today. (The Washington Post)
  • Reps. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) and Ryan Costello (R-Pa.) appear to be the only swing-state Republicans who voted for the American Health Care Act and are scheduled to hold town hall meetings during the two-week recess. (USA Today)

Business Brief

  • Regulators and manufacturers are bracing for an expected wave of hacks targeting medical devices such as pacemakers and insulin pumps. (The Hill Extra)
  • Scientists working with tech billionaire Sean Parker’s cancer institute may have found a way to predict whether patients will respond to treatments that target the PD-1 pathway in tumors through a simple blood test. (Techcrunch)
  • Bain Capital and Cinven are acquiring Stada Arzneimittel AG for $5.6 billion, giving the private equity firms control of one of the last independent generic-drug businesses in Europe. (Bloomberg News)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

No events scheduled
Manhattan Institute event on “Yelp for Health” 12 p.m.
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Club for Growth aims to muscle House moderates into accepting Freedom Caucus health proposal
Mike DeBonis, The Washington Post 

The conservative Club for Growth said Monday that it is targeting 10 moderate House Republicans with a $1 million ad campaign, offering a glimpse into the right’s strategy for pushing through a GOP health-care overhaul. The ads, set to begin Tuesday, come at the beginning of a two-week congressional recess — and after the latest bid to reconcile warring GOP lawmakers and resurrect the American Health Care Act fell short last week.

The watchdogs keeping an eye on HHS and Obamacare
David Nather, Axios

As long as Obamacare repeal is stalled, the Department of Health and Human Services has said it will uphold the law — but a new watchdog group is trying to find out what officials at HHS and other agencies are saying about it in private. American Oversight, a group of lawyers that launched last month, says it’s going to use the Freedom of Information Act to dig up a lot of emails and other documents about how the Trump administration is making its decisions about Obamacare.

Republicans avoid town halls after health care votes
Heidi M Przybyla, USA Today

Reps. Leonard Lance of New Jersey and Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania appear to be the only swing-district Republicans who voted for their party’s bill to replace Obamacare who will directly face constituents over the April recess, according to a USA TODAY analysis of scheduled town halls compiled by Fourteen Republicans from competitive congressional districts sit on the three congressional committees that voted last month for their party’s controversial health care plan before GOP leaders pulled the bill from the House floor because it lacked support to pass.

50-80 Republicans would have voted no on health care proposal, Justin Amash says
Lauren Gibbons, MLive

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, a vocal critic of the health care reforms proposed and eventually pulled back by House Republican leadership, said Monday that the bill would have gone down hard had it been brought up for a vote. At a town hall meeting in Cedar Springs Monday, Amash said it wouldn’t have just been members of the House Freedom Caucus opposing the health care plan that was not brought up for a vote last month — he estimated anywhere between 50 and 80 Republicans would have voted no.

Lawmakers Propose Emergency Response Fund for Pandemics
Jon Reid, Morning Consult 

Citing warnings from senior Obama administration officials, lawmakers from both parties are calling on Congress to establish a dedicated funding source to combat infectious disease outbreaks, according to a letter released Monday. The fund, which 21 lawmakers requested in a letter to senior House appropriators, would appropriate $300 million to help the Trump administration “contain and eradicate future infectious disease epidemics.”

Gold Gains With Treasuries and Yen on Haven Demand: Markets Wrap
Benjamin Purvis and Samuel Potter, Bloomberg News

Gold and Treasuries strengthened with the Japanese yen on lingering investor caution about global security risks and the path of U.S. interest rates. Crude ended this year’s best run.


Trump Administration to Pay Health Law Subsidies Disputed by House
Robert Pear, The New York Times

The Trump administration says it is willing to continue paying subsidies to health insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act even though House Republicans say the payments are illegal because Congress never authorized them. The statement sends a small but potentially significant signal to insurers, encouraging them to stay in the market.

GOP owns health care dilemma now, and voter skepticism
Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Emily Swanson, The Associated Press

Move over, “Obamacare.” The health care debate has shifted to ideas from President Donald Trump and GOP lawmakers in Congress, and most people don’t like what they see.


OU Medical System moves forward without management partner
Dave Barkholz, Modern Healthcare

The Oklahoma University Medical System soon will operate without a hospital system manager for the first time in 20 years. The system’s proposed deal to affiliate with Catholic giant SSM Health fell through last month after nearly six months of due diligence.

Pharma, Biotech and Devices

FDA, industry fear wave of medical-device hacks
Casey Harper, The Hill Extra

Regulators and medical-device-makers are bracing for an expected barrage of hacking attacks even as legal and technical uncertainties leave them in uncharted territory. Tens of millions of electronic health records have been compromised in recent years, a number that is growing and, some say, underreported.

Stada Accepts $5.6 Billion Takeover Offer From Bain, Cinven
Noami Kresge, Bloomberg News

Stada Arzneimittel AG agreed to sell itself to Bain Capital and Cinven for 5.3 billion euros ($5.6 billion), giving the private equity firms control of one of the last independent generic-drug businesses in Europe after a long-fought takeover contest. Bain Capital and Cinven will offer 65.28 euros plus a dividend of 0.72 euros per Stada share, the Bad Vilbel, Germany-based drugmaker said in a statement Monday.

OncoMed sinks as cancer drug fails; Bayer opts against licensing drugs
Akankshita Mukhopadhyay, Reuters

OncoMed Pharmaceuticals Inc said it would discontinue a trial testing experimental stem cell therapy demcizumab as an initial treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer, after the addition of the drug to standard-of-care failed a mid-stage study. OncoMed’s shares plummeted after it also said that Germany’s Bayer AG had decided to not exercise an option to license two of the U.S. company’s other experimental therapies, vantictumab and ipafricept, for “strategic reasons.”

Maryland lawmakers send bill on drug price gouging to Hogan
Morgan Eichensehr, Baltimore Business Journal

The Maryland General Assembly has passed a bill intended to fight unwarranted price hikes on “essential” generic drugs. If signed by Gov. Larry Hogan, the bill would make it illegal for generic drug manufacturers to engage in price gouging — defined as an “unconscionable increase in price” — for certain prescription drugs.

Health IT

Sean Parker’s cancer institute may have found a blood test to see if patients will respond to treatment
Sarah Buhr, Techcrunch

Scientists in collaboration with tech billionaire Sean Parker’s Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy may have found a way to predict whether melanoma patients will respond to treatments that target the PD-1 (programmed cell death protein) pathway in tumors through a simple blood test, according to a paper in the scientific journal Nature. The former Facebook president launched the institute with his moniker and persuaded hundreds of top scientists within various research universities across the U.S. to form an alliance to solve cancer using cutting-edge immunotherapy, floating $250 million of his own $3 billion fortune to do so.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Repealing IPAB Key to Preserving Patient Access to Health Care
Thomas E. Rohrer, Morning Consult 

As a dermatologic surgeon and president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association, I value our elderly citizens and proudly treat Medicare patients in my own practice. But the Medicare program and seniors’ access to quality health care faces an imminent threat unless Congress acts rapidly to address it.

Is Obamacare in a ‘Death Spiral’?
Harold Pollack, Politico

The Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces have faced a tough year. They aren’t imploding, but they have experienced high premium increases and insurer exits this year.

Editorial: Which Scott Gottlieb will run the FDA?
Merrill Goozner, Modern Healthcare

Dr. Scott Gottlieb is by far the most conflicted person nominated to run the 111-year-old Food and Drug Administration. He’s received payments from or invested in dozens of companies with business before the agency, earning millions of dollars in the process.

Research Reports

Invisible High-Risk Pools
Jonathan Keisling, American Action Forum

One of the many challenges to limiting growth in health insurance premiums is how unevenly health care costs are distributed across the population, with a small portion of people making up a large portion of spending. This challenge becomes even greater in a world where some form of guaranteed issue and community rating exist.