Health Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead

Week in Review

Senate health bill likely to diverge from House version

  • The health care bill emerging in the Senate could maintain protections for people with pre-existing conditions, which is one of the most popular parts of the Affordable Care Act. States would be able to opt out of the protections under the House bill.
  • Senate Republicans are also considering keeping some Obamacare taxes to help them pay for their legislation. The House bill would retroactively repeal nearly all of the ACA’s taxes.
  • Placing restrictions on abortion coverage in the Senate bill could run afoul of the chamber’s arcane budget rules.

GOP sees pressure to fund ACA payments to insurers 

  • House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady is urging Congress to immediately fund cost-sharing reduction payments that help subsidize coverage for low-income people. The Trump administration continues to hedge on whether it will continue to make the payments, and the uncertainty is prompting some insurers to plan premium hikes or exit the individual exchanges.
  • Athem announced it would stop offering plans in Ohio’s individual marketplace next year. It hasn’t made a final decision about its participation in more than a dozen other states’ ACA exchanges. Pulling out of those markets could leave about 300,000 people without any coverage options next year.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced steps aimed at keeping insurers from leaving the state’s Obamacare exchange. Cuomo plans to block insurers from participating in the state’s Medicaid program and children’s health plan if they exit its individual marketplace.

Price defends Trump’s budget 

  • In two congressional hearings, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price defended the administration’s proposed cuts to Medicaid and its handling of Obamacare. Democrats say the Medicaid cuts could undermine efforts to combat the opioid abuse crisis.

FDA wants opioid drug out of market 

  • The Food and Drug Administration is demanding that Endo Pharmaceuticals pull its powerful opioid drug Opana ER from the market. It’s the first time the agency has requested the removal of an opioid medication from the market due to “the public health consequences of abuse.”

What’s Ahead

  • Senate Republicans continue to work on their health care bill. While GOP leaders haven’t given themselves a hard deadline to pass the bill, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell aims to hold the vote by July 4.
  • Members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will look at ways to address rising drug prices at a hearing on Tuesday. The hearing comes on the heels of a push by committee leaders to pass legislation reauthorizing FDA user fee programs with as little controversy as possible.

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Commonwealth Fund briefing on 2018 insurance marketplaces 1:30 p.m.
The Hill, PhRMA event on outcomes-based care with Sen. Cassidy 7:45 a.m.
Politico briefing on Medicaid 8 a.m.
Senate HELP Committee hearing on drug prices 10 a.m.
Brookings Institution event on drug distribution chain 9 a.m.
Manhattan Institute, U.S. Chamber of Commerce forum on drug prices 9 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on extending health safety net programs 10:15 a.m.
House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Indian Health Service 1 p.m.
Bloomberg Law event on the ACA 8:30 a.m.
Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on HHS budget request 10 a.m.
No events scheduled


Morning Consult Health Top Reads

1) GOP Leaders to Present Senate Republicans With Proposals to Shape Health-Care Bill
Stephanie Armour and Kristina Peterson, The Wall Street Journal

2) Republicans Return From Recess Under Health Care Time Crunch
Joe Williams, Roll Call

3) A Key Republican Demands Subsidies to Calm Insurance Markets
Robert Pear, The New York Times

4) Health care vote possible by July 4, McConnell tells Trump
Lauren Fox et al., CNN

5) Senate Health Bill May Alienate G.O.P. Conservatives
Jennifer Steinhauer and Robert Pear, The New York Times

6) Drug Prices Become Target for FDA as Chief Expands Purview
Anna Edney, Bloomberg News

7) The Single-Payer Party? Democrats Shift Left on Health Care
Alexander Burns and Jennifer Medina, The New York Times

8) GOP Senators’ Medicaid Clash Jeopardizes Health Deal
Kristina Peterson et al., The Wall Street Journal

9) GOP uncertainty over Obamacare drives out insurers
Paul Demko, Politico

10) Capitol Hill Dems, HHS Secretary Price Trade Jabs On HHS Budget
Rachel Bluth, Kaiser Health News