Overnight Health Care: Battle over drug prices shifts to states | Trump taps new acting HHS secretary | Twitter reverses on Blackburn Senate ad | Dems push NIH on gun violence research

Overnight Health Care: Battle over drug prices shifts to states | Trump taps new acting HHS secretary | Twitter reverses on Blackburn Senate ad | Dems push NIH on gun violence research

Battle over drug prices shifts back to the states

President Trump has derided pharmaceutical companies as "getting away with murder," but there's been little action in Washington to rein in the costs of prescription drugs.

Some states are taking matters into their own hands. California passed a new law that requires pharmaceutical companies to explain a drug's price tag, and other states are considering similar measures.

"This is not an issue that's going away, and it's clear that patients are demanding action on this topic, and if they can't succeed on the federal level, then they're going to the states," said Rachel Sachs, an associate law professor at the Washington University School of Law.


On Monday, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed drug pricing transparency legislation that supporters call the most robust law to date.

"Sacramento is proving we will lead where the folks in Washington, D.C., won't," California state Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León (D) said at a news conference Monday.

The new law requires drug companies to notify purchasers at least 60 days in advance before raising a price tag by more than 16 percent in a two-year period. Manufacturers would have to explain why the cost increased.

Read more here. 


Trump announces Hargan as new acting HHS secretary

President Trump announced a new acting secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services: Eric Hargan, whom the Senate confirmed last week to fill the No. 2 position within HHS.

Hargan will fill the post vacated by Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PricePoll: Majority in some GOP districts say Republicans 'more corrupt' than Dems Five GOP lawmakers mulling bid to lead conservative caucus Overnight Health Care: Watchdog finds Tom Price improperly used funds on flights | Ex-Novartis CEO sent drug pricing proposal to Cohen | HHS staffers depart after controversial social media posts MORE, who came under fire and resigned late last month as HHS secretary after a series of Politico articles reported his use of private and government planes for travel cost taxpayers more than $1 million.

After the resignation, Don Wright -- a career official at HHS -- took over as acting HHS secretary. Trump announced late Tuesday that Hargan will now fill that role and head the department charged with implementing ObamaCare, a law Trump has said is failing and Republicans tried to repeal and replace this year.

Read more here. 


Twitter backs down, will allow Blackburn to promote Senate ad

Twitter reversed its decision to block a GOP congresswoman from promoting her campaign video on its website.

In a video announcing her campaign for the Senate, Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnElection Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas Senate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Lawmakers split over how to expand rural broadband MORE (R-Tenn.) referenced "baby body parts," which Twitter called a violation of its guidelines.

The social media network said on Monday she couldn't promote the video on Twitter unless she removed the phrase, but changed course Tuesday.

"Our ads policies strive to balance protecting our users from potentially distressing content while allowing our advertisers to communicate their messages. Nowhere is this more difficult than in the realm of political advertising and the highly charged issues that are often addressed therein. After further review, we have made the decision to allow the content in question from Rep. Blackburn's campaign ad to be promoted on our ads platform," a spokesperson said in a statement.

"While we initially determined that a small portion of the video used potentially inflammatory language, after reconsidering the ad in the context of the entire message, we believe that there is room to refine our policies around these issues."

In her video announcement, Blackburn says: "I fought Planned Parenthood, and we stopped the sale of baby body parts, thank God."

She was referring to her work as chairwoman of a House panel investigating the use of fetal tissue for research following the 2015 release of a series of undercover videos targeting Planned Parenthood.

Read more here.


ACLU, Planned Parenthood sue Missouri over new abortion law

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Missouri sued the state of Missouri on Tuesday over new abortion regulations.

The groups argue a recently passed law "severely restricts access to safe, legal abortion" by requiring the same physician performing an abortion to be the one giving state-mandated information to a patient 72 hours before the procedure.

Previously, any "qualified professional" was authorized to discuss that information with the patient.

"This will result in extreme delays up to three to four weeks for women to access abortion, and it will cut some women off from care entirely," the groups argue.

Read more here.


ObamaCare enrollment groups likely to decrease services after Trump funding cuts

Local and state groups that help with ObamaCare enrollment say they will likely have to reduce their services following funding cuts from the Trump administration.

Funding for the "navigator" groups, which provide outreach, education and enrollment assistance, was cut in half this year for being "ineffective," Trump officials have said.

Now most of the navigator programs say they will have to limit their services this year, according to a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

Among programs that got reduced funding this year, 45 percent of statewide programs and two-thirds of regional programs said it is "somewhat or very likely" they will have to limit the territory their program will serve, according to the survey.

This could primarily impact consumers living in rural areas.

Read more here. 


Senate Dems urge NIH to renew gun research grants

Senate Democrats are calling on the National Institutes of Health to renew recently-lapsed funding for gun violence research following the Las Vegas concert shooting.

In a letter to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, Democratic Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOn The Money: Trump 'ready' for tariffs on all 0B in Chinese goods | Trump digs in on Fed criticism | Lawmakers drop plans to challenge Trump ZTE deal On The Money: Trump rips Fed over rate hikes | Dems fume as consumer agency pick refuses to discuss border policy | Senate panel clears Trump IRS nominee Dems fume as Trump's consumer bureau pick refuses to discuss role in border policy MORE (Mass.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDem senator ties Kavanaugh confirmation vote to Trump-Putin controversy Full interview: Chris Murphy speaks out on the Trump-Putin meeting and what it means Dem senator: NATO has become 'functionally obsolete' under Trump MORE (Conn.), and 21 others joined Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersBernie Sanders: Trump 'so tough' on child separations but not on Putin Bernie Sanders tells Kansas crowd: This 'sure doesn’t look' like a GOP state The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and Congress at odds over Russia MORE (I-Vt.) in urging NIH to continue to research.

"With 93 Americans dying per day from gun-related fatalities, it is critical that NIH dedicate a portion of its resources to the public health consequences of gun violence," the senators wrote.

Following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, President Obama directed health agencies to begin funding research into firearms. The NIH awarded a total of $18 million for nearly two dozen research projects.

But the funding expired in January and the agency has yet to renew it.

Read more here.


What we're reading

Pharmacy hand-delivers drugs to Congress, a perk for the powerful (STAT)

VA conceals shoddy care and health workers' mistakes (USA Today)

Women's health docs say Trump ignores birth control science (The Associated Press)


State by state

In new test for ObamaCare, Iowa seeks to abandon marketplace (The New York Times)

Puerto Rico's health care is in dire condition, three weeks after Maria (The New York Times)

These 10 cities had the biggest jumps in hospital jobs (STAT)