Overnight Healthcare: GOP states move to cut Medicaid | Senate passes key FDA funding bill

Overnight Healthcare: GOP states move to cut Medicaid | Senate passes key FDA funding bill
© Greg Nash

Republican governors are working with the Trump administration to do something Congress couldn't accomplish: fundamentally alter their state Medicaid programs.

At least six states with GOP governors-- Arkansas, Kentucky, Arizona, Maine, Wisconsin and Indiana -- have already drafted plans meant to introduce new rules people would have to meet to be eligible for Medicaid, which provides healthcare to low-income Americans and those with certain disabilities.

Some want to add work requirements or introduce drug testing for recipients. Others want to raise premium prices.

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Final approval from the administration could come within a matter of weeks.

Critics say the proposed changes will leave fewer people on Medicaid and hurt the poor and vulnerable.

"There are limits on what's allowable, and tying eligibility to work or drug testing or some of these other things is not consistent with what should be allowed," said Judith Solomon, vice president for health policy at the liberal-leaning Centers on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Proponents argue the changes, which would waive federal requirements under Medicaid, are an important tool in trimming the fast-rising costs of the program.

They say Medicaid recipients should have some "skin in the game" -- an incentive to transition from government support to full-time employment.

Read more here.

 

Senate passes key FDA funding bill

Senators voted overwhelmingly Thursday to pass a key Food and Drug Administration (FDA) funding bill, sending it to President Trump's desk.

The Senate passed a five-year reauthorization of the FDA's user fees in a 94-1 vote, with Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders denies tweet about corporate Democrats was dig at Warren Sanders denies tweet about corporate Democrats was dig at Warren Democrats asked to create ideal candidate to beat Trump pick white man: poll MORE (I-Vt.) voting against the measure.

The bipartisan legislation was spearheaded by Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds Overnight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds Chris Murphy may oppose bipartisan health bill unless it addresses ObamaCare 'sabotage' MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds Overnight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds Chris Murphy may oppose bipartisan health bill unless it addresses ObamaCare 'sabotage' MORE (D-Wash.), the top lawmakers on the Senate Health Committee, and represents a major contrast from the partisan rancor surrounding the Senate's recent efforts to repeal ObamaCare.

The bill passed Thursday renews the FDA's authority to collect fees from the prescription drug and medical device industries, which will account for $8-9 billion over 5 years and is over a quarter of all FDA funding.

The fees help speed up the approval of new drug and devices. The funding reauthorizations are based on recommendations from industry groups and the FDA after a public process, and come about a month before the current user fee agreement is set to expire.

The White House hasn't said if it will sign the user fee bill. In a statement of administrative policy issued in July after the bill passed the House, the White House expressed concern with some minor provisions, though it did not threaten a veto.

Read more here.

 

Senate Finance to hold healthcare hearing in September

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators MORE (R-Utah) announced Thursday that the panel will hold a healthcare hearing in September, in the wake of a failed vote on repeal of ObamaCare.

The hearing will be a chance for members of both parties to discuss the healthcare law, and it comes amid calls for a return to regular order and the committee process.

The Health Committee is expected to take the lead role in crafting a bipartisan bill aimed at stabilizing the ObamaCare marketplaces, but the announcement indicates that the Finance Committee, which shares jurisdiction on healthcare, will also discuss the issue.

Still, Hatch noted that the "main priority" of the committee in the fall will be tax reform.

"We've also heard a lot of demands from members of the committee for a healthcare hearing," Hatch said at the opening of a Finance Committee hearing on Thursday. "I intend to do that as well at some point shortly after the recess."

Read more here.

 

Poll: Most Republicans disapprove of how GOP is handling healthcare

More than half of Republicans in a Quinnipiac University poll released on Thursday do not approve of the way their party has handled healthcare in Congress.

Sixty percent of Republicans said they disapprove, while only 32 percent of Republicans said they approve.

American voters as a whole also voiced their disapproval with Republican efforts, with 80 percent saying they disapprove. Fifteen percent said they approve.

Read more here.

 

Zinke shares beers with Murkowski

Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeExclusive: Trump administration delayed releasing documents related to Yellowstone superintendent's firing Exclusive: Trump administration delayed releasing documents related to Yellowstone superintendent's firing Trump's order to trim science advisory panels sparks outrage MORE shared a picture of him drinking a beer with Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiInterior spending bill holds Trump administration accountable for 2017 promises Hillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Hillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data MORE (R-Alaska) on Thursday, after reports surfaced that the secretary threatened to cut economic development funds in Alaska over her vote on the healthcare bill.

"I say dinner, she says brews. My friends know me well. Thanks Lisa Murkowski," Zinke tweeted while including a picture of them holding Alaskan brand beers.

The tweet comes after reports surfaced claiming Zinke made thinly veiled threats to Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) during a phone call last week in an effort to pressure them to vote for the GOP replacement plan for ObamaCare.

Zinke brushed off the claims, calling the reports "laughable."

Murkowski also downplayed the matter, telling reporters last week that Zinke relayed that President Trump "was not pleased" with her decision to vote against the GOP healthcare measure.

But the Interior Department's watchdog is launching a "preliminary investigation" into the calls.

Read more here.

 

What we're reading

Obamacare repeal defeat staves off cuts to preventive health program (Morning Consult)

The opioid epidemic, explained (Vox)

Teva Pharmaceuticals hit by increased competition in U.S. generics (The Wall Street Journal)

 

State by state

Trump is on his way to an epicenter of the opioid crisis. Here's what he'll find (Stat)

Get ready to pay more for healthcare next year: hikes from 5 to 24 percent in California's Central Valley (Merced Sun-Star)

As states get a peek at Healthcare.gov premium increases, Missouri has to wait (St. Louis Public Radio)