Overnight Health Care: Trump says he hopes Supreme Court strikes down ObamaCare | FDA approves remdesivir as COVID-19 treatment | Dems threaten to subpoena HHS over allegations of political interference at CDC

Overnight Health Care: Trump says he hopes Supreme Court strikes down ObamaCare | FDA approves remdesivir as COVID-19 treatment | Dems threaten to subpoena HHS over allegations of political interference at CDC
© Getty Images

Welcome to Thursday’s Overnight Health Care.

We’ll be watching for plenty of back-and-forth on the coronavirus response at tonight’s presidential debate, but first, President TrumpDonald John TrumpAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week Conservative policy director calls Section 230 repeal an 'existential threat' for tech MORE gave Democrats some fodder for attacks with his comments on ObamaCare to "60 Minutes," and a new study points to thousands of avoidable COVID-19 deaths in the United States. 

We’ll start with the ObamaCare comments:


Trump says he hopes Supreme Court strikes down ObamaCare

President Trump says in a new interview with “60 Minutes” that he would like to see the Supreme Court “end” the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and that he would announce his own health care plan after the case is ruled on.

“It is developed. It is fully developed. It is going to be announced very soon when we see what happens with ObamaCare, which is not good,” Trump said when questioned by CBS News correspondent Lesley Stahl on why he hasn’t released the health care plan that he has long promised.

Trump would not elaborate on how the plan would protect those with preexisting conditions. He claimed that “pieces” of his plan had been released before, saying later that it “will” be developed and suggesting that despite his assurances it has not been fully formed.

“I hope that they end it. It will be so good if they end it because we will come up with a plan,” Trump said.

The lawsuit: Trump's own Justice Department signed on to the lawsuit seeking to strike the ACA, which was brought by a group of GOP state attorneys general, so it's not exactly a surprise that he wants the law gone. But the landmark health care reform law has proved popular with voters.

Contrast with Senate GOP: In Congress, on the other hand, Republicans are downplaying the chances of the ObamaCare lawsuit, which has become a political headache. “No one believes the Supreme Court is going to strike down the Affordable Care Act,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Unemployment gains lower than expected | Jobs report lights fire under coronavirus relief talks GOP senators back Christian school's push for COVID-19 carve-out Bipartisan governors call on Congress to pass coronavirus relief package MORE (R-Ky.) said last week during a debate with his Democratic challenger.


Read more here

FDA grants full approval to remdesivir as COVID-19 treatment  

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted full approval to the antiviral drug remdesivir to treat COVID-19, manufacturer Gilead announced Thursday.

FDA initially granted emergency use authorization for remdesivir in May, which allowed doctors and hospitals to use the drug to treat hospitalized patients without a full approval. 

Remdesivir, which is administered in a hospital setting through an IV, showed modest results in reducing the hospitalizations of patients with severe cases of COVID-19. 

It is now the only FDA-approved treatment for COVID-19.

The approval is based on three randomized controlled trials, including one sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. 

In an open letter to the public, Gilead's chief medical officer Merdad Parsey acknowledged the results from a global World Health Organization trial, which found remsdesivir had no substantial impact on the survival of COVID-19 patients or the length of their hospital stays. But he took issue with the trial design and its implementation, and said the ones conducted in the U.S. result in high quality scientific evidence. 

Read more here.

House Democrats threaten to subpoena HHS over allegations of political interference at CDC

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), chairman of the Oversight and Reform Select subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, threatened Thursday to issue subpoenas in the panel's investigation of alleged political interference by the Trump administration in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports on the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, Clyburn warned that the department's lack of responsiveness to the requests for documents and interviews made by the panel more than a month ago meant that Democrats may turn to issuing subpoenas to HHS for the first time since the subcommittee was established this spring.   

"This investigation is urgent because pervasive political interference at HHS appears to be contributing to the Trump administration’s ongoing failure to control the coronavirus, which is killing hundreds of Americans each day," Clyburn wrote in the letter obtained by The Hill. "If you refuse to comply voluntarily, you will force the Select Subcommittee to consider issuing subpoenas." 

An HHS spokesperson didn't immediately have a response to Clyburn's letter. 

Read more here.

On The Trail: A third coronavirus wave builds just before Election Day

A new wave of viral infections is washing over the nation just weeks before Election Day, putting a new spotlight on a crisis that has come to define President Trump’s struggle for reelection.

For months, public health experts have warned of an increase in the number of cases that would accompany lower temperatures in the fall and winter. As people move inside more, they said, the coronavirus was likely to spread.

Those predictions have come true — earlier and more significantly than expected.

“We’re in a really precarious time,” said David Rubin, a pediatrician who runs the PolicyLab at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, whose models show devolving situations across much of the nation. The pandemic “is accelerating, and it’s accelerating quickly. We’re now seeing hospitals exceeding capacity in the Upper Midwest, in Salt Lake, where hospitals are filling up, and it’s just mid-October.” 

What does this mean for the election?: The spike in cases comes at a disastrous time for Trump’s reelection campaign. Trump has tried to change the focus of the contest to Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Federal student loan payment suspension extended another month Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week MORE's son Hunter Biden's business dealings in Ukraine and China, to sometimes violent protests in Democratic-controlled cities, and to an economic comeback he says has already begun. But voters give Trump disastrous marks on handling a pandemic that has already killed more Americans than the populations of Tacoma, Wash., or Baton Rouge, La.


Read more here.

Columbia report: US could have avoided 130,000 COVID deaths with better response

A new report from Columbia University researchers finds that at least 130,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States could have been avoided if the U.S. had responded to the virus as well as a group of other high-income countries. 

The report compares the per capita death rate in the U.S. from the virus with six other high-income countries: South Korea, Japan, Australia, Germany, Canada and France.

It finds that if the U.S. had the same rate of death as France, it would have about 55,000 fewer deaths, while if it had South Korea’s rate it would have about 215,000 fewer. 

Disproportionate amount of deaths: The report points to “abject failures of U.S. government policies and crisis messaging” in helping to explain why the United States has such a high death rate from the virus. The U.S. has has more than 220,000 deaths from the virus so far, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is about 20 percent of all of the coronavirus deaths in the world, even though the U.S. has only 4 percent of the world’s population. 

Read more here.


What we’re reading

Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine trial is fully enrolled, 37 percent of participants are minorities (Washington Post)

An angry Azar floats plans to oust FDA’s Hahn (Politico)

Doctors say this will be the worst surge yet. From treatments to testing to PPE, is the US better at handling COVID-19 now? (CNN

State by state

Hogan: Maryland adds $250M to coronavirus economic relief efforts (WBAL)

Gov. Herbert warns Utah hospitals filling up with COVID patients (sltrib.com)

Florida schools are slow to spend $693 million in federal coronavirus aid (Tampa Bay Times

The Hill op-eds

United States could learn from Africa's coronavirus response

How Trump lost to the coronavirus

Hedging the vaccine bet