Week in Review
Senate Republicans not there yet on health care bill
- Senate Republicans are struggling to coalesce around a plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, casting doubt on GOP leaders’ goal to hold a floor vote on the bill before the July recess.
- Some Republicans openly question GOP leaders’ decision to have the bill crafted behind closed doors and without holding any hearings.
- President Donald Trump told 15 Senate Republicans that the House health care bill is “mean,” and urged them to craft a version that is more “generous.” Trump’s apparent turnabout on the House bill he once heralded raised concerns among conservatives that his remarks could affect the negotiations in the Senate.
Insurers grapple with unstable Obamacare marketplaces
- Despite calls from senior Republicans, the Trump administration refuses to say whether it will continue to make cost-sharing reduction payments owed to insurers.
- The uncertainty is causing insurers to plan rate hikes next year and drop out of exchanges across the country. In more than 10 states, major insurers have already announced premium hikes averaging 20 percent.
- Despite GOP claims that the Obamacare markets are in a “death spiral,” Centene Corp. announced it would offer plans in three new states for the first time, as well as expand its offerings in six states where it currently sells insurance.
Opioids are a top concern in states and Congress
- A bipartisan group of state attorneys general is probing how drug manufacturers market prescription painkillers and the causes of widespread opioid addiction. The investigation involves a majority of U.S. states, and is another sign of growing pressure on the pharmaceutical industry.
- Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price told senators that he is committed to fighting opioid addiction — but he faced criticism from lawmakers of both parties who say the Trump administration’s budget would not provide enough funding to address the opioid abuse epidemic.
Supreme Court eases path to market for biosimilars
- The Supreme Court ruled to cut the time it takes for copycat versions of biologic drugs to enter the market, a blow to brand-name drugmakers seeking to avoid cheaper versions of their products from entering the market.
Tech giants jumping into health business
- Google Inc. and Swiss drugmaker Novartis are investing in a $300 million fund run by life sciences investment firm Medicxi. The fund will back European biotech companies that specialize in late-stage drug development.
- Health care experts say Amazon.com Inc. is poised to disrupt the medical supplies industry as it builds out its Amazon Business platform.