Morning Consult Health, Presented by Better Medicare Alliance: Purdue Plans to Ask Bankruptcy Judge to Suspend Litigation on Opioid Lawsuits

Top Stories

  • Purdue Pharma LP will appear in federal bankruptcy court today to request that pending litigation brought by state attorneys general be suspended until the drugmaker can bring down its legal costs and get more local governments to back its proposed settlement. At least 24 states currently oppose the deal on the grounds that it fails to adequately hold Purdue’s owner, the Sackler family, accountable, and Purdue is tasked with proving to the judge that halting the trial serves public interest. (Reuters)
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia will hear oral arguments today in a lawsuit targeting Medicaid work requirements in Kentucky and Arkansas, which were previously struck down by a federal judge. The case comes on the heels of a new report from the Government Accountability Office finding lofty estimated costs of implementation, as high as $271 million in Kentucky, and that federal health officials approved work requirements without seeking administrative cost projections, going against federal control standards. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • A new report from the Georgetown University Center on Health Insurance Reforms and the Urban Institute finds an increasing number of states are exercising flexibility in their health insurance marketplaces, either weighing or preparing to depart from the federal marketplace established under the Affordable Care Act. Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Oregon are six of the states considering moving from and building their own state-run marketplaces for people seeking coverage. (Modern Healthcare)

Chart Review

The Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index
Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Health Literacy in Action Conference
Becker’s Hospital Review 5th Annual Health IT + Revenue Cycle Conference
ISPOR Summit 2019
2019 Arc National Convention
AdvaMed Workshop: PMA Submissions 8:30 am
NIHCM Capitol Hill briefing: “How to Build Healthier Communities: From the Opioid Crisis to Social Determinants” 12:00 pm
Becker’s Hospital Review 5th Annual Health IT + Revenue Cycle Conference
2019 Arc National Convention
2019 Arc National Convention
2019 Arc National Convention
American Bar Association’s ERISA Basics National Institute
View full calendar

Stop the Health Insurance Tax on Seniors and Protect Medicare Advantage!

In previous years, Congress has recognized the serious consequences of reinstating the Health Insurance Tax and has suspended it from going into effect. Allowing the tax to return would impact seniors who rely on Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage keeps costs low, provides additional benefits and protects seniors. It is a critical part of Medicare that Members of Congress must protect. Co-sponsor H.R. 1398 and S. 172 and talk to leadership. Stop the Health Insurance Tax!


Trump Signs Executive Order to Offset Agencies’ Increased Administrative Spending
Kate Davidson and Andrew Restuccia, The Wall Street Journal

The White House on Thursday announced a new effort aimed at reining in spending at federal agencies by requiring them to offset administrative actions that boost mandatory spending with cuts elsewhere. Mandatory spending includes spending for entitlement programs, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and is generally governed by legislation, rather than the annual budgeting process.

Senate Democrats seek to reverse Trump’s regulations on health care, taxes, environment
Burgess Everett and Anthony Adragna, Politico

Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats will pursue a series of votes in the coming weeks to roll back some of President Donald Trump’s regulations on health care, taxes and the environment.

Juul Says Retail Program Curbs Youth Sales, but Stores Balk
Kristen V Brown et al., Bloomberg

Juul Labs Inc. said sales-software changes it designed to stop underage shoppers from buying its e-cigarettes at the cash register were successful in a company study, nearly eliminating such purchases.

As Vaping Illnesses Rise, So Do Pleas To Quit-Smoking Help Lines
Anna Almendrala, Kaiser Health News

Even though “quitlines” were designed to help people kick cigarette habits, calls and texts from people who use e-cigarettes are climbing as more people fall ill with a mysterious and devastating respiratory illness linked to vaping.

Abortion ban opponents conflicted in Louisiana governor race
Melinda DeSlatte, The Associated Press

At the height of Louisiana’s debate over a strict new abortion ban, phone calls poured into Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office, from people urging him to jettison the measure and threatening to withhold votes for his reelection bid as he signed the new law.

House panel pressures Reynolds to stop advertising Vuse e-cigarettes, pushes for documents
Angelica LaVito, CNBC

A House panel is requesting a slew of documents from Reynolds after the company ignored the committee’s request to stop advertising its e-cigarettes.

A Crack in the Armor: Military Health System Isn’t Ready for Battlefield Injuries
Steve Sternberg, U.S. News & World Report

American troops believe they will get world-class care if they’re injured; the military’s own surgeons disagree.

Medical marijuana OK at K-12 schools in California after Gov. Newsom signs new law
Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times

Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill that paves the way for parents in some California school districts to bring medical cannabis to their students at K-12 campuses, breaking with former Gov. Jerry Brown, who had vetoed similar legislation last year.

Taking The Cops Out Of Mental Health-Related 911 Rescues
LJ Dawson, Kaiser Health News

Every day that Janet van der Laak drives between car dealerships in her sales job, she keeps size 12 shoes, some clothes and a packed lunch — a PB&J sandwich, fruit and a granola bar — beside her in case she sees her 27-year-old son on the streets.

Stocks Rally on Trade-Talk Optimism; Pound Surges: Markets Wrap
Yakob Peterseil, Bloomberg

Stocks rallied on Friday amid growing hopes that the U.S. and China can negotiate a trade truce as high-level talks progress into a second day. Treasuries fluctuated after Thursday’s slump while the pound surged on optimism for a Brexit deal.


COPD patients with high insurance deductibles more likely to skip care
Shelby Livingston, Modern Healthcare

Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who were enrolled in private high-deductible health plans more frequently reported putting off or skipping care and ending up in the hospital or emergency department than patients without high deductibles, according to a new study.

Obamacare in Arizona: More choice and stability expected for 2020
Stephanie Innes, Arizona Republic 

The Affordable Care Act remains a political hot button, but health insurance companies are happy enough with the law that they’re expanding Obamacare offerings to Arizonans in 2020.


NYC Health & Hospitals closes more than half of its $1.8B budget gap
Jennifer Henderson, Modern Healthcare

New York City Health & Hospitals reported Thursday that its financial transformation plan is working. At the end of fiscal year 2019, H&H closed 65% of its $1.8 billion structural budget gap, the health system said.

California’s Sutter Health going to court over high prices
Jocelyn Gecker, The Associated Press

One of California’s largest hospital systems is facing a trial over accusations that it has used its market dominance to snuff out competition and overcharge patients for medical bills.

Pharma, Biotech and Devices

Hooters Operator Trades Tank Tops for Test Tubes in Deal
Drew Armstrong, Bloomberg

Chanticleer Holdings Inc., the owner and operator of Hooters and other restaurant franchises, plans to combine with Sonnet BioTherapeutics Inc. in a reverse merger, turning from selling chicken wings, burgers and beer to developing cancer drugs.

Teamsters chastise Cardinal Health over a board member tied to opioid fines
Ed Silverman, Stat News

As Cardinal Health (CAH) struggles to resolve its role in the U.S. opioid crisis, the distributor is facing fresh criticism for re-appointing a board member who previously served at a time when the company was fined by federal authorities for allowing controlled substances to be diverted.

New transplant research aims to salvage infected donated organs
Caroline Copley and Canice Leung, Reuters

The research comes amid a spike in available organs linked to the opioid overdose crisis, meaning many are contaminated by hepatitis C as the virus is commonly spread by sharing needles. Since it can easily infect an organ recipient, those organs are usually discarded despite the urgent need.

How Viagra could boost a widely used blood cancer treatment
Angus Liu, FierceBiotech

A research team at the University of California, Santa Cruz has evidence that Pfizer’s popular erectile dysfunction drug Viagra can facilitate the release of stem cells from the bone marrow into the bloodstream, which could ease collection.

Health IT

Verily, Alphabet’s other money-making, non-Google business, partners with Color on genetic analysis
Jonathan Shieber, Tech Crunch

Color, the genetics testing company, is partnering with Alphabet’s health technology-focused subsidiary, Verily Life Sciences, to provide to the company’s Baseline Health Study participants information from its genetic tests.

A Message From Better Medicare Alliance:

Congress: Co-sponsor H.R. 1398 and S. 172 and talk to leadership to stop the Health Insurance Tax on seniors. In previous years, Congress has recognized the serious consequences of reinstating the Health Insurance Tax and has suspended it from going into effect. Allowing the tax to return would impact seniors who rely on Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage keeps costs low, provides additional benefits and protects seniors. Click here to learn more.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Let the Facts Get in the Way of the Health Care Spending Story
Robert Popovian, Morning Consult

For decades, data provided by the Department of Health and Human Services has quantified health care spending associated with retail medicines at approximately 10 percent of overall health care costs.

Fill in the Gaps: Health Care Solutions Beyond the System
Naomi Parrella, Morning Consult

Americans spend the most money on health care in the world, and yet health care outcomes are not optimal, and it is not accessible to everyone.

Pot Legalization Makes Vaping Deadly
Scott Gottlieb, The Wall Street Journal

Recent injuries and deaths demonstrate the need for Washington to take control over cannabis policy.

U.S. surgeons general: Dementia is our top public health crisis
Richard Carmona et al., Orlando Sentinel

Over the span of more than 20 years and three presidents, as surgeons general we’ve confronted more than our fair share of devastating public health crises, from emerging infections like bird flu, SARS, the H1N1 pandemic, and Ebola, to the opioid crisis and national-preparedness issues like hurricanes and terrorist attacks.

Trump’s Plan To Privatize Medicare
Emily Gee et al., Center for American Progress

Rather than strengthening Medicare, Trump envisions turning large swaths of the 54-year-old program for the elderly over to the private sector while directing the federal government to dismantle safeguards on seniors’ health care access, shift costs onto beneficiaries, and limit seniors’ choice of providers.

Research Reports

Notes from the Field: Environmental Contamination from E-cigarette, Cigarette, Cigar, and Cannabis Products at 12 High Schools — San Francisco Bay Area, 2018–2019
Jeremiah Mock et al., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A garbology study of environmental contamination from e-cigarette product waste, combustible tobacco product waste, and cannabis product waste was conducted using a purposively selected, nonrandom sample of 12 public high schools with a total enrollment of 18,831 students in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, and San Francisco counties in California. 

Longitudinal Associations Between Income Changes and Incident Cardiovascular Disease
Stephen Y. Wang et al., JAMA

In this cohort study of middle-aged, community-dwelling adults, a more than 50% income drop was significantly associated with higher risk of incident cardiovascular disease, while a more than 50% income rise was significantly associated with lower risk of incident cardiovascular disease, over a 17-year follow-up.

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