Health Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead

Week in Review

McConnell: GOP may have to bolster Obamacare if repeal effort fails

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Congress would need to pass a bill to shore up the nation’s insurance marketplaces if the Republican effort to overhaul the Affordable Care Act fails.
  • The White House is supporting a conservative proposal by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that would let insurers sell plans that don’t adhere to consumer protections, even though GOP leaders are wary of the idea. Cruz’s proposal is one of many being analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office.
  • Republican Sen. John Hoeven said he opposes the Senate health care legislation as it currently stands. The North Dakotan is at least the 10th GOP senator to withhold support. Hoeven was one of only a few Senate Republicans, such as Cruz and Sen. Jerry Moran (Kan.), to hold town halls during the July Fourth recess.

Trump administration appoints top Georgia health official as CDC director

  • Georgia Public Health Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald, an obstetrician-gynecologist, was appointed to serve as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Drugmakers mount legal challenge against Maryland’s price gouging law 

  • A trade group representing generic drugmakers filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court challenging Maryland’s new prescription drug price gouging law.

Opioid prescriptions dipped in recent years

  • The rate that opioid painkillers are being prescribed has declined in recent years, a sign that efforts to limit access are working, according to a government analysis.
  • At least 25 states, cities and counties have filed lawsuits against companies that manufacture and distribute highly addictive painkillers within the past year, in the face of the worst drug epidemic in U.S. history.

What’s Ahead

  • Senate Republicans are unlikely to vote on their health care bill until next week, as GOP leaders try to revise the legislation in a way that can appease both conservative and moderate holdouts. McConnell can’t afford to lose more than two Senate Republicans, assuming all Democrats vote against the legislation.
  • The CBO could release cost estimates for a number of proposals that GOP leaders are considering adding to the legislation.

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

No events scheduled
Bipartisan Policy Center event on long-term care 10 a.m.
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.
Bipartisan Policy Center event on state flexibility 10 a.m.
No events scheduled


Morning Consult Health Top Reads

1) McConnell says limited bill needed if GOP health bill dies
Bruce Schreiner and Alan Fram, The Associated Press

2) At parades and protests, GOP lawmakers get earful about health care
David Weigel, et al., The Washington Post

3) Cruz insurance proposal underscores trouble with protecting pre-existing conditions
Harris Meyer, Modern Healthcare

4) White House Backs Conservative Health Plan, but G.O.P. Leaders Are Leery
Robert Pear, The New York Times

5) One reason the GOP health bill is a mess: No one thought Trump would win
Paul Kane, The Washington Post

6) GOP promises lower health premiums but ignores all that’s driving them
Joanne Kenen, Politico

7) UnitedHealth, Vista Said Near Deal to Split Advisory Board
Alex Sherman et al., Bloomberg News

8) GOP Sen. John Hoeven comes out against health care bill
David Wright, CNN

9) The Senate GOP’s health care stalemate, in one chart
Dylan Scott and Bella Lucy, Vox

10) GOP Senators Weigh Higher Health Premiums’ Possible Effect on Midterms
Stephanie Armour and Kristina Peterson, The Wall Street Journal