Overnight Healthcare: Official defends Medicare drug plan

CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt on Wednesday defended the controversial new plan to overhaul Medicare payments for prescription drugs, pitching it as a way to increase access to potentially life-saving medicine.

"There is nothing that we propose to do, or should do, in any way, that prevents a patient from getting a prescription medicine that they need," Andy Slavitt, the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, said Wednesday.

Slavitt spoke for the first time about the Medicare proposal in front of more than 100 pharmaceutical executives at the annual PhRMA conference. In a question-and-answer session with Slavitt, PhRMA board member and Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier joked that he was going to ask about "the elephant in the room."

"As you can imagine, people have a great deal of concern about the proposal," Frazier said, adding that he has heard many of those concerns while walking around the conference that day.  

Slavitt stressed that the plan was still in the early stages, and that the agency would be soliciting feedback for several months.

And the quote of the day from Slavitt? "This is America, we want our cake and eat it too. We want innovation, but we also want to be able to afford it." Read more here: http://bit.ly/1R7L6i9

And more from the healthcare conference week:


THE RITZ: In her final time addressing AHIP's annual policy conference, Sylvia Mathews Burwell touched on nearly all of the hot-button issues she's faced as HHS chief.

In the span of 20 minutes, Burwell expressed confidence in the health of ObamaCare marketplaces, pledged to "improve the risk adjustment program," underscored the importance of maintaining the Cadillac tax and called for greater transparency in which drugs and doctors are covered by their insurance.  

CRUZ HITS TRUMP ON PLANNED PARENTHOOD: The Texas senator on Wednesday unleashed an ad attacking Trump for his support of Planned Parenthood and for government-sponsored healthcare. In the 30-second spot, Cruz again promises to repeal ObamaCare, but doesn't mention what it will be replaced with. See the ad here

SENATE ENDS DEBATE ON OPIOID BILL A bipartisan opioid abuse bill is headed toward the finish line in the Senate.

Senators overwhelmingly voted 93-3 Wednesday to end debate on the legislation. Sixty votes were needed to overcome the final procedural hurdle.

Sens. Mike LeeMike LeeDonald Trump's Mormon PR problem Trump's big worry isn't rigged elections, it's GOP establishment GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election MORE (R-Utah), Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyFCC approves new privacy rules for 'sensitive' internet data Senate Dems target Wells Fargo auditor Senate Dems want major women's golf event moved off Trump course MORE (D-Mass.) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) voted against moving forward with the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, or CARA.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellCures bill in jeopardy amid drug pricing push Senate Democratic super PAC sets fundraising record Five takeaways from Florida Senate debate MORE (R-Ky.) urged support for the legislation earlier Wednesday, saying it would mark a "big step" in combating a growing overdose epidemic. Read more here. http://bit.ly/1py3xGZ  


First uterus transplant in U.S. fails (Washington Post)

Tough abortion laws are actually helping Planned Parenthood (Washington Examiner)

Employee at closed Chipotle has norovirus (Reuters)  

Anti-ObamaCare governor is proving how hard it is to repeal ObamaCare (Huffington Post)  


Florida confirms first sex transmission of Zika virus (WFTS News)

Houston now able to test for Zika virus (Fox 26)

Kansas Planned Parenthood still gets Medicaid funds despite threats (Associated Press)


UN: Efforts to fight Zika far ahead of Ebola

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