Health Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead

Week in Review

Revised Senate health bill

  • Senate GOP leaders unveiled the latest version of their bill to overhaul the Affordable Care Act as they seek to appease both conservative and centrist holdouts. The changes were rejected by two Republican senators, leaving Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) with no more GOP votes to spare.
  • Timing for Senate consideration of the measure is uncertain, though, after the office of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the lawmaker had surgery on Friday to remove a blood clot above his left eye, and that he will spend a week recovering in Arizona. McConnell, who had previously said he wanted the Senate to vote on its health care bill the week of July 16, announced that the chamber would hold off on consideration of the measure while McCain recovers.
  • Other holdouts to the original bill are reviewing the revised measure, which still includes fundamental changes to Medicaid that were opposed by moderate Republican senators in the initial draft. The revision also adds a contentious conservative proposal that would let insurers sell skimpier, cheaper coverage if they offer at least one plan that adheres to the ACA’s consumer protections.
  • In recent weeks, health care groups representing hospitals, doctors and patients have upped their opposition against the GOP’s Obamacare repeal push.

Fraud tied to opioids

  • Federal law enforcement agencies announced the largest crackdown on opioid-related health care fraud in U.S. history, arresting 120 people, including doctors and operators of treatment facilities who allegedly took advantage of patients.

NIH funding

  • House appropriators proposed a $1.1 billion increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health, defying the Trump administration’s call for $5.8 billion in cuts to the nation’s medical research agency.
  • The House also passed a user fee reauthorization deal for the Food and Drug Administration, which includes a provision that would allow medical device makers to delay reporting dangerous malfunctions to the FDA. Consideration of the Senate version is delayed while Republicans try to overhaul the nation’s health care system.

Alaska waiver

  • The Trump administration approved a waiver to let Alaska create a reinsurance program intended to lower premiums for people covered by Obamacare.

Financial outlook for Medicare

  • The financial outlook for Medicare’s hospital insurance trust fund improved slightly from last year due to health care costs rising more slowly than expected and predictions that enrollees would use hospital services less often, according to an annual government report.

Gene-altering cancer treatment 

What’s Ahead

  • The Congressional Budget Office is expected to release a cost estimate of the revised Senate bill to overhaul the ACA as soon as Monday. But Senate Republicans may have the Department of Health and Human Services, instead of the nonpartisan budget scorekeepers, measure the impact of a controversial provision from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that would let insurers sell bare-bones health coverage if they offer at least one plan that meets federal consumer protections.

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Center for American Progress Action Fund event on drug prices with Rep. Pallone 10 a.m.
The Hill hosts an event on mental health care with Gov. McAuliffe, Rep. Lance 8:20 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on 340B drug pricing program 10:15 a.m.
National Pharmaceutical Council webinar on out-of-pocket costs 12 p.m.
House Ways and Means subcommittee hearing on waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare 10 a.m.
Manhattan Institute event on drug pricing with former Sen. Coburn 10 a.m.
National Press Foundation event on preventative health care 1:45 p.m.
Senate Competitiveness Caucus event on drug production 3:30 p.m.
The Hill event on the drug delivery system 8 a.m.
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on bipartisan reforms to Medicare 10 a.m.
No events scheduled


Morning Consult Health Top Reads

1) New Senate Health Bill Aims to Bridge GOP Gaps, But Resistance Remains
Stephanie Armour and Kristina Peterson, The Wall Street Journal

2) Reeling Republicans take one last shot at Obamacare
Burgess Everett and Jennifer Haberkorn, Politico

3) McConnell Faces Increasing Pressure Over Health Bill as Timetable Tightens
Stephanie Armour et al., The Wall Street Journal

4) Senators Explore Bipartisan ‘Plan B’ to Troubled GOP Health Bill
Sahil Kapur and Laura Litvan, Bloomberg

5) Following Recess, GOP Health-Care Push Gets Trickier
Stephanie Armour, The Wall Street Journal

6) Lawmakers propose $1.1B boost to NIH, defying Trump budget
Rachel Roubein, The Hill

7) Why Obamacare’s Loudest Critics Aren’t as Loud Anymore
Kate Zernike, The New York Times

8) Senate Republicans Set Sights on Revised Health Bill
Kristina Peterson, The Wall Street Journal

9) CMS proposes slashing 340B rates, paying for joint procedures at outpatient facilities
Virgil Dickson, Modern Healthcare

10) Congress’s Other Health-Care Problem Awaits Action on ACA
Anna Edney, Bloomberg