Overnight Health Care: Trump taking report on drug czar pick 'very seriously' | Trump vows action on drug prices | McConnell says 20-week abortion ban to get Senate vote

Overnight Health Care: Trump taking report on drug czar pick 'very seriously' | Trump vows action on drug prices | McConnell says 20-week abortion ban to get Senate vote
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President Trump said he was going to take a Washington Post and "60 Minutes" joint investigation "very seriously" after both news outlets published reports suggesting his pick for drug czar led efforts to weaken enforcement of drug policing laws.

Trump also said his administration would be officially declaring the opioid epidemic a national emergency next week. It's been more than two months since Trump said his administration was drafting paperwork to do so.

Trump said he saw the in-depth news reports released Sunday, which detailed legislation that reportedly weakened the Drug Enforcement Administration's authority to halt drug distributors while the nation faces a major opioid epidemic.


Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), whom Trump nominated in early September to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy, was reportedly the lead advocate for the legislation.

Trump called Marino -- an early backer of Trump -- a "good man," adding he hadn't spoken to Marino on Monday. Marino hasn't had a confirmation hearing in the Senate, and Senate Judiciary Committee aides said his paperwork has not been completed.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump defends 'crime buster' Giuliani amid reported probe Louisiana voters head to the polls in governor's race as Trump urges GOP support Trump urges Louisiana voters to back GOP in governor's race then 'enjoy the game' MORE (D-N.Y.) on Monday also called for Trump to withdraw the pick.

Read more here.


Manchin calls on Trump to withdraw drug czar pick 

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is calling for the White House to withdraw the nomination of Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) to serve as the nation's drug czar, after a Washington Post-60 Minutes investigation suggested he led a bid to weaken enforcement of the nation's drug policing laws.

"The legislation that Congressman Marino pushed has tied the hands of the DEA in their efforts to enforce our nation's laws and ensure that these wholesalers and other industry actors alert authorities to these suspicious orders instead of simply profiting from them," Manchin wrote Monday in a letter to President Trump.

"His advocacy for this legislation demonstrates that Congressman Marino either does not fully understand the scope and devastation of this epidemic or ties to industry overrode those concerns. Either option leaves him unfit to serve as the head of the ONDCP."

Manchin's home state of West Virginia has been hit particularly hard by the country's epidemic of prescription painkillers and heroin.

Read more here.


Trump promises action on drug prices 

President Trump on Monday attacked prescription drug companies and hinted at taking action to bring down rising drug prices.

"We are going to get prescription drug prices way down because the world is taking advantage of us," Trump said during a wide-ranging press conference.

He noted the same drug sold outside the U.S. sometimes costs a fraction of what it does in the U.S.

"The same exact pill from the same company, same box, same everything, is a tiny fraction of what it costs in the United States," Trump said.

Earlier in the day, Trump told Cabinet members that drug companies were " frankly getting away with murder," a phrase he first used on the campaign trail.

The administration has yet to take any substantive action on drug prices, but officials floated a draft executive order over the summer that would have lowered regulatory barriers for drug companies in order to increase competition.

Read more here.


Pennsylvania ObamaCare to see premium spike after Trump cuts payments

Insurance premiums for plans sold on Pennsylvania’s ObamaCare exchange will increase by an average of 30.6 percent for 2018 primarily because of President Trump’s decision to stop paying key subsidies, the state’s insurance department said.

If Trump had decided to continue making the cost-sharing reduction payments, projections showed a much more modest premium increase of 7.6 percent.

"It is with great regret that I must announce approved rates that are substantially higher than what companies initially requested," Acting Commissioner Jessica Altman said in a statement.

Trump late last week announced the administration would no longer pay the subsidies to insurers, which help low-income people afford co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs associated with health insurance policies.

Read more here.


Talks on Children's Health Insurance Program stall

Negotiations on a bipartisan bill to fund the popular Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) have made little progress, a top House Republican said Monday. 

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said Democrats have not made a counteroffer on paying for an extension of the program. 

"Despite Ranking Member [Frank Pallone Jr.'s (D-N.J.)] statement calling for renewed bipartisan negotiations nearly two weeks ago, we have yet to receive a single counteroffer from our Democratic colleagues," Walden said in a statement.

The Energy and Commerce Committee passed a bill extending funding for the program earlier this month with no Democratic support.

Democrats, however, took issue with offsets that would cut an ObamaCare public health fund and increase Medicare premiums for those with incomes of more than $500,000 a year.

Walden agreed last week to reopen negotiations with Democrats on ways to pay for the program but said Monday there hasn't been any progress.

Read more here.


McConnell: 20-week abortion ban will get Senate vote 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFury over Trump Syria decision grows Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Trump to slap sanctions on Turkey for Syria offensive | Trump calls on Turkey to broker ceasefire | Pelosi, Graham seek deal on sanctions | Ex-Trump aide testifies in impeachment probe Trump: Let Assad, Russia or China protect the Kurds MORE (R-Ky.) said on Monday that the Senate will vote on a 20-week abortion ban, though he didn't specify when the legislation will come up. 

"It's supported by virtually all of my members, and we expect to have a vote on it at some point," McConnell told reporters during a press conference in the Rose Garden with President Trump. 

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham throws support behind Trump's Turkey sanctions Hillicon Valley: Warren takes on Facebook over political ads | Zuckerberg defends meetings with conservatives | Civil liberties groups sound alarm over online extremism bill Fury over Trump Syria decision grows MORE (R-S.C.) introduced legislation earlier this month that would make it illegal for any person to perform or attempt an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with the possible penalty of five years in prison, fines or both. 

With a 52-seat majority, Republicans are unlikely to be able to pass the bill in the Senate. They would need 60 votes, including the support of at least eight Democrats, to clear the legislation.

Read more here.


The Hill event:

Join us Tuesday, October 24, for America's Opioid Epidemic: Aging & Addiction, featuring Reps. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkMassachusetts Democrats call for 100 percent fentanyl screening of international mail from 'high-risk' nations Ten notable Democrats who do not favor impeachment The Hill's Morning Report - Trump searches for backstops amid recession worries MORE (D-Mass.) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.). Topics include the opioid epidemic's impact on older Americans, initiatives to curb opioid abuse, and alternative solutions to pain management. RSVP Here


More from The Hill:

Trump: There is no such thing as ObamaCare anymore

Trump says vote on ObamaCare repeal coming next year

Ad pushes Congress to revive ObamaCare payments that Trump canceled


What we're reading: 

How Congress allied with drug company lobbyists to derail the DEA's war on opioids (Washington Post)

When it comes to pharma money, Trump was with the elephant in the room (statnews.com)

Trump's insurance directive renews pre-existing conditions fight (Bloomberg)


State by state: 

In Maine, Medicaid expansion goes before the voters (The Wall Street Journal)

Deep in Trump Country, a big stake in health care (The New York Times)

What Trump's latest health care order means for Washington (The News Tribune)