Overnight Health Care: Pfizer delaying price hikes after Trump criticism | Dems focus on health care in Supreme Court fight | Feds won’t reunite all 102 detained children by deadline | VA nominee headed to Senate floor vote

Overnight Health Care: Pfizer delaying price hikes after Trump criticism | Dems focus on health care in Supreme Court fight | Feds won’t reunite all 102 detained children by deadline | VA nominee headed to Senate floor vote
© Getty Images

Welcome to Overnight Health Care, Tuesday edition.

Now that Brett Kavanaugh has been officially nominated, everyone can get to work analyzing his past cases for insight into how he'll rule on health issues. Also today, the Trump administration gave an update on its effort to reunify families separated at the southern border, the only Kentucky Democrat wants more info from CMS about Medicaid coverage cuts, and the nominee for VA secretary is headed to a Senate floor vote.

We'll start with some late breaking news involving the president and drug prices...

 

Pfizer delaying price hikes

Pfizer announced on Tuesday it was postponing its price hikes on certain drugs after criticism from President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House counsel called Trump 'King Kong' behind his back: report Trump stays out of Arizona's ugly and costly GOP fight Trump claims he instructed White House counsel to cooperate with Mueller MORE, who earlier in the week blasted the company over the move.

"Following an extensive discussion with President Trump today, Pfizer's Chairman and CEO Ian Read announced that it will defer the company's price increases that were effective on July 1 to give the president an opportunity to work on his blueprint to strengthen the healthcare system and provide more access for patients," the company said in a statement.

Trump hails decision: Earlier on Tuesday, Trump took to Twitter to tout the decision.

"Pfizer is rolling back price hikes, so American patients don't pay more," Trump tweeted.

"We applaud Pfizer for this decision and hope other companies do the same. Great news for the American people!"

But hold on: Pfizer's statement on Tuesday went on to say that the deferment in prices hikes was temporary.

"The company will return these prices to their pre-July 1 levels as soon as technically possible, and the prices will remain in effect until the earlier of when the president's blueprint goes into effect or the end of the year – whichever is sooner."

We've got the story here.

 

Dems focus on health care in fighting Trump's Supreme Court nominee

Democrats are putting health-care front and center in the fight against Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Both abortion rights and ObamaCare's pre-existing condition protections are taking center stage, but Democrats are putting a particular emphasis on the latter, an issue that unites their party more and could have broader appeal than abortion.

Divide in the caucus: One Democratic senator who requested anonymity said there was a "lively debate" about abortion politics during a closed-door meeting before Congress left for the July 4 recess.

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandSunday shows preview: Trump stokes intel feud over clearances Boogeywomen — GOP vilifies big-name female Dems Bernie Sanders socialism moves to Democratic mainstream MORE (D-N.Y.), an outspoken advocate of women's rights and a potential White House candidate in 2020, urged her colleagues to "hammer" Republicans on the threat to Roe v. Wade, said the source.

But other Democrats want to put less emphasis on the divisive issue of abortion rights.

"There are a lot of Catholics in my state," said one lawmaker, describing trepidation that some Democratic senators have about over-emphasizing abortion.

Read more here.

 

Trump officials cut funding for ObamaCare outreach groups

Last month we reported that the administration was considering cutting funding for navigator outreach groups that help people enroll in coverage.

Now, those cuts are officially happening.

The funding will be cut from $36 million last year to $10 million this year, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said in a statement. The administration already cut the funding last year to well below the $63 million under President Obama.

Democrats say that the cuts are more evidence of the Trump administration sabotaging the health law. The administration said now that the health law has been around longer, the need for outside groups to help people enroll, known as navigators, has diminished.

"As the Exchange has grown in visibility and become more familiar to Americans seeking health insurance, the need for federally funded Navigators has diminished," CMS said in a statement.

Read more here.

 

Government won't reunite all 102 detained children by deadline

U.S. officials will reunite a total of 38 children under five years old who have been separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

But the government will not be able to reunite all 102 children, government lawyers said Tuesday.

The administration has previously reunited four of the children, and DOJ attorneys said they expect to reunify 34 more by Tuesday's deadline. Another 16 children will be reunified shortly, once the parents have been verified, federal officials said.

Backstory: A federal judge had previously ordered the government to return all children age 4 and younger to their parents by Tuesday. The Trump administration said it was working in good faith to meet the deadline, but some parents were ineligible to be reunited.

ACLU response: The ACLU is representing the parents in a class action lawsuit against the administration. The group said it doesn't believe the federal government is complying with the judge's order, especially in cases where parents were deported without their kids.

Key quote: "Their children are stranded in this country" because of the federal government's actions, the ACLU said.

Read more here.

 

While we're on the topic of child separations…

U.S. officials at the southern border may have taken a child of a U.S. citizen into custody, administration lawyers revealed Tuesday.

One child "cannot be reunified at this time because the parent's location has been unknown for more than a year," DOJ lawyers said in a court filing. "Defendants are unable to conclusively determine whether the parent is a class member, and records show the parent and child might be U.S. citizens."

Also: The Trump administration defended its screening process, and said it used DNA screenings to identify and rule out five adults who claimed to be parents of children being held at the southern border.

 

FDA approves freeze-dried blood plasma for U.S. troops

Last year there was a showdown between defense and health lawmakers over approval of freeze-dried plasma for U.S. troops, but now there might be a resolution.

The FDA on Tuesday approved the plasma for troops in combat.

Last year, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryOvernight Defense: Trump signs 7B defense policy bill into law | Rips McCain hours after signing bill named after him | Green Beret killed in Afghanistan blast Overnight Defense: 7B defense policy bill speeding toward finish line | Trump threatens Turkey with sanctions over American pastor | Senators offer bills to defend NATO ties House easily passes 7B annual defense policy bill MORE (R-Texas) tried to go around the FDA by granting the Department of Defense the ability to allow the freeze-dried plasma use.

Eventually, an agreement was reached to prevent that more drastic measure, and the FDA is now approving the use of the freeze-dried plasma from a French company, even though it is not approved for wider use in the United States.

"Through our collaborative program with the [Department of Defense], they've made clear the importance of access to freeze-dried plasma in initial efforts to control hemorrhage from battlefield trauma," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. "Granting this authorization will support access to this important product in the event it's needed."

Read more here.

 

Dem presses HHS on Kentucky cutting dental, vision coverage for Medicaid

There was an uproar earlier this month when Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin's (R) administration canceled dental and vision coverage for thousands of Medicaid enrollees in the wake of a judge's ruling against his work requirements proposal.

Now, Rep. John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthOvernight Health Care: Trump health official warned against family separations | Study ignites debate over cost of 'Medicare for All' | Individual market enrollment drops as premiums rise Liberal Dems lay groundwork to push 'Medicare for all' Overnight Health Care: Trump meets with Pfizer CEO amid pricing push | Kentucky reinstates dental, vision Medicaid benefits | Spending by health lobby groups down in second quarter MORE, the state's only Democrat in the congressional delegation, wants answers.

"In his haste to strip these services away from families across Kentucky, Governor Bevin gave no warning to patients or guidance to providers, resulting in chaos and reports of men, women, and children being denied access to the treatments they need – forced to walk away from appointments and scheduled procedures," Yarmuth wrote in a letter Tuesday to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar.

Yarmuth asked Azar if Bevin has the authority to cancel the dental and vision coverage, and if HHS approved the move.

Read more here.

 

VA nominee cruising to floor vote

Robert Wilkie, President Trump's nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, is one step closer to confirmation after a Senate panel Monday voted to send his nomination to the floor.

In a voice vote, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee voted nearly unanimously to approve Wilkie's nomination. Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersBoogeywomen — GOP vilifies big-name female Dems RealClearPolitics editor: Moderate Democrats are losing even when they win Sanders tests his brand in Florida MORE (I-Vt.) voted against.

There's no date yet when the vote will occur, but if Sanders also votes "no" on the floor, it would be the first time a VA nominee receives anything less than a unanimous vote.

Read about Wilkie here.

 

What we're reading

If high court reverses Roe v. Wade, 22 states poised to ban abortion (Kaiser Health News)

Drugmakers cancel price hikes after California law takes effect (Bloomberg)

Ben Rhodes: Obama's team 'misjudged' strength of opposition to Obamacare (Washington Examiner)

 

State by state

Freezing of ObamaCare funding draws mixed reaction from UPMC, Highmark (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

As Arkansas ushers in new Trump-era Medicaid rules, thousands fear losing benefits (Reuters)