Overnight Health Care: Senators unveil bipartisan opioid bill | DOJ to seek reimbursements from opioid companies | Groups looking to end AIDS fear losing ground under Trump

Overnight Health Care: Senators unveil bipartisan opioid bill | DOJ to seek reimbursements from opioid companies | Groups looking to end AIDS fear losing ground under Trump
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Senators unveil bipartisan bill to fight opioid epidemic

A bipartisan group of senators is introducing legislation Tuesday to address the opioid epidemic, framing it as a follow-up bill to the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) signed into law in 2016.

Dubbed CARA 2.0, the legislation includes a host of policy changes, such as establishing a three-day initial prescribing limit on opioids for acute pain, beefing up services to promote recovery and aiming to increase the availability of treatment.

The legislation is a mixture of policy changes and increased funding authorizations, in light of a two-year budget deal passed earlier this month that includes $6 billion for the opioid and mental health crises.

Those introducing the bill include Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanLongtime tax aide leaving Senate Finance Committee Ex-McConnell policy aide joining lobby firm WATCH: Sen. Flake: “More doubtful” North Korean summit will happen  MORE (R-Ohio), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate Dems to Mnuchin: Don't index capital gains to inflation EPA extends comment period on controversial science transparency rule House easily passes prison reform bill backed by Trump MORE (D-R.I.), Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoEPA grapples with potential health threat in drinking water Pa. health secretary: 'Sustainable funding' needed to attack opioid crisis Senate panel unanimously approves water infrastructure bill MORE (R-W.Va.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharSenate approves new sexual harassment policy for Congress Senators introduce bill to overhaul sexual harassment policy Senate reaches deal on new sexual harassment policy MORE (D-Minn.), Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanSenate panel unanimously approves water infrastructure bill Senate GOP anger over McCain insult grows GOP senator calls on White House aide to apologize for McCain remark MORE (R-Alaska), Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — VA reform bill heads to Trump's desk Senators introduce bill to measure progress in opioid fight Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump hits federally funded clinics with new abortion restrictions MORE (D-N.H.), Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidySenate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA GOP, Dem lawmakers come together for McCain documentary Graham working on new ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (R-La.) and Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellHillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers Twitter CEO meets with lawmakers to talk net neutrality, privacy Senate Dems urge Trump to remain in Iran deal ahead of announcement MORE (D-Wash.).

The bipartisan bill includes some measures similar to those removed from the original CARA bill passed in 2016, such as an initiative to bolster youth recovery support services and a provision requiring physicians and pharmacists to use their state prescription drug monitoring program before prescribing or dispensing opioids.

Additionally, the legislation would let states waive the cap on the number of patients a physician can prescribe buprenorphine -- a medicine used to treat opioid addiction -- and increase penalties for opioid manufacturers failing to report suspicious orders.

CARA 2.0 authorizes $1 billion in additional funding.

Read more here.


Groups working to end AIDS fear losing ground under Trump 

Advocates working to end the AIDS epidemic fear they may lose ground under the Trump administration after coming within reach of ending the disease's siege in the U.S. and abroad.

While former Presidents Obama and George W. Bush made fighting AIDS one of their administrations' top priorities, President TrumpDonald John TrumpComey: Trump's 'Spygate' claims are made up Trump taps vocal anti-illegal immigration advocate for State Dept's top refugee job Seattle Seahawks player: Trump is 'an idiot' for saying protesting NFL players 'shouldn’t be in the country' MORE has proposed massive cuts to prevention programs, failed to fill key positions that advise the administration on the issue, and has at times made disparaging remarks about countries suffering from the epidemic.

"The last year has been an incredibly challenging one with respect to the politics surrounding HIV and AIDS, domestically and internationally," said Mitchell Warren, executive director of the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC), a group that advocates for HIV prevention to end AIDS.

One big indicator of Trump's lack of commitment to ending AIDS, advocates say, is his failure to appoint someone to lead the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) more than a year into his presidency.

Read more here.


Justice Department seeks reimbursements over opioids

The Department of Justice is filing a statement of interest in the opioid lawsuits against distributors and manufacturers, arguing that the federal government should be reimbursed for the significant costs it has borne from the crisis.

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDirector of federal prisons resigns after clashes with Kushner, Sessions: report Black Caucus raises concerns over Amazon facial recognition software Immigrant women, children abused by gangs need our protection MORE announced the statement of interest, arguing American taxpayers deserved compensation.

"The hard-working taxpayers of this country deserve to be compensated by those whose illegal activity contributed to those costs," Sessions said at a press conference. "And we will go to court to ensure that the American people receive the compensation they deserve."

The statement will be filed in the multidistrict litigation that has brought together hundreds of opioid lawsuits from cities and municipalities.

Read more here.


20 states file lawsuit alleging ObamaCare is unconstitutional 

A coalition of 20 states has filed a lawsuit alleging ObamaCare is unconstitutional.

They're claiming that since the GOP eliminated the tax penalty associated with the individual mandate, that ObamaCare itself is no longer constitutional.

The lawsuit against the federal government, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel (R), was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Texas.

In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that ObamaCare's individual mandate was constitutional because Congress has the power to levy taxes. The lawsuit points to that part of the ruling in its argument that the law is no longer constitutional.

The GOP tax law "eliminated the tax penalty of the ACA, without eliminating the mandate itself. What remains, then, is the individual mandate, without any accompanying exercise of Congress's taxing power, which the Supreme Court already held that Congress has no authority to enact," the complaint states.

Read more here.


Key GOP lawmaker: 'Unlikely' Congress lifts CDC gun research limits 

A key GOP lawmaker says it's "unlikely" that a provision restricting research on gun violence gets removed in next month's spending bill.

"It's unlikely that we would remove it in this particular legislation simply because this is a $1.2 trillion bill," Rep. Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeTrump on collision course with Congress on ZTE Trump's plan to claw back spending hits wall in Congress Can Jim Jordan become top House Republican? MORE (R-Okla.), the chairman of the House Appropriations Health Subcommittee, told reporters on Tuesday. "It shouldn't be derailed for a single thing."

Democrats have renewed their calls for repealing the restriction on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gun research, which is included each year in appropriations bills, after the school shooting in Florida earlier this month.

The provision in question does not actually ban research at the CDC on gun violence, it only prevents advocacy by the CDC for gun control. But Democrats argue that the provision has had a chilling effect even on research.

Read more here


Pence: Abortion will end in US 'in our time' 

Vice President Pence predicted Tuesday that legal abortion would end in the U.S. "in our time."

"I know in my heart of hearts this will be the generation that restores life in America," Pence said at a luncheon in Nashville, Tenn., hosted by the Susan B. Anthony List & Life Institute, an anti-abortion organization.

"If all of us do all we can, we can once again, in our time, restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law." 

Pence has long championed anti-abortion policies, as a congressman, as the governor of Indiana and as vice president.

He told the crowd he has seen more progress in the Trump administration's first year in office than he has in his entire life.

Read more here.


Health chief doesn't tip hand on Idaho ObamaCare plan 

An Idaho official says Trump administration officials did not give him an indication on whether they are going to block his state's controversial move to get around ObamaCare rules after a meeting on Saturday.

Idaho insurance commissioner Dean Cameron and Gov. Butch Otter (R) met with Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Saturday to discuss the state's plan. Democrats are pressuring Azar to step in and enforce ObamaCare's rules, saying that Idaho's move is plainly illegal.

Cameron told The Hill on Tuesday that Azar did not say whether he would block the state's move, but did say that he needs to uphold the law.

Read more here.


What we're reading

Medical researchers look to enlist patients as partners (The Wall Street Journal)

Apple is launching medical clinics to deliver the 'world's best health care experience' to its employees (CNBC)

No downturn in obesity among US kids, report finds (NPR)


State by state

At some Caifornia hospitals, fewer than half of workers get the flu shot (californiahealthline.org)

Idaho officials pitch health care plan to feds (Associated Press)

Rising health costs take a big bite out of S.C. budget (thestate.com)