Overnight Health Care: Popular drug pricing bill left out of budget deal | House eyes changes to 'right to try' bill | ObamaCare enrollment tells tale of two systems

Overnight Health Care: Popular drug pricing bill left out of budget deal | House eyes changes to 'right to try' bill | ObamaCare enrollment tells tale of two systems
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Popular bill to fight drug prices left out of budget deal

Drug pricing advocates are decrying the budget deal announced Wednesday for leaving out a bipartisan drug pricing measure they pushed for.

The measure would prevent branded drug companies from using delay tactics to prevent cheaper generic competitors from coming onto the market.

It is one of the few drug pricing measures that has bipartisan support in Congress, but it did not end up being included in the bipartisan budget deal announced Wednesday.

Drug pricing advocates are blaming the pharmaceutical industry, which has been lobbying hard against the measure. They point out that much of the rest of the health-care world supports it.

"Who's opposing it? Big pharma and front groups that are bought and paid for by big pharma," said Chip Davis, CEO of the Association for Accessible Medicines, which represents generic drug companies. "There's your answer."

Read more here.


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ObamaCare enrollment tells tale of two systems

Most states that operate their own ObamaCare exchanges saw more people sign up in 2018 than last year, while 29 of the 34 states that rely on the federal government to promote enrollment saw their sign-ups fall.

Of the 17 state-based marketplaces, 11 saw enrollment increases: Colorado, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Nevada, Washington, Kentucky and Oregon while California, Idaho, Maryland, Vermont, Arkansas and New Mexico saw decreases.

The 34 states using the federal marketplace, in contrast, saw a 5.3 percent drop in enrollment, according to data released Wednesday by the National Academy of State Health Policy (NASHP).

The different enrollment numbers suggest the Trump administration's decision to cut off advertising and other services intended to get people signed up for ObamaCare plans had an effect on the federal exchange.

Read more here.


House eyes changes for 'right to try' bill

Lawmakers in the House appear likely to make changes to the "right to try" bill on experimental drugs, something supporters worry could make it harder to get the bill to President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Arpaio files libel suit against New York Times IMF's Christine Lagarde delays trip to Middle East MORE's desk.

Advocates of the measure -- which would let terminally ill patients request access to treatments the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn't approved -- want the House to take up the Senate-passed bill as is. But that's unlikely, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenVulnerable Republicans throw ‘Hail Mary’ on pre-existing conditions GOP senator wants Apple, Amazon to give briefing on reported Super Micro hack Overnight Health Care: Bill banning 'gag clauses' on drugs heads to Trump's desk | Romney opposes Utah Medicaid expansion | GOP candidate under fire over ad on pre-existing conditions MORE (R-Ore.) said Monday.

Proponents of the bill are worried about the changes and fear they could cause the legislation to get jammed up in the Senate, which passed the original version with unanimous consent.

Last week, Trump gave the legislation a jolt of momentum when he endorsed the bill during his State of the Union address. The legislation has other major backers who are working to get it over the finish line, including groups backed by conservative mega-donors Charles and David Koch.

Read more here.


Most groups agree to stop abortion services in exchange for US aid

A Trump administration decision to put new abortion restrictions on international health funding has prompted four nongovernmental organizations (NGO) and 12 of their local partners to not renew their requests for the aid.

President Trump last year reinstated the so-called Mexico City policy, which bans the use of foreign aid for international family planning organizations and NGOs that provide or promote abortions.

He also went a step further than previous presidents by extending the policy to cover all global health assistance programs furnished by all U.S. departments or agencies.

In exchange for this funding, organizations had to promise not to provide or promote abortions, even with their own funding.

According to a six-month review of the policy released by the State Department, of the 733 organizations whose funding came up for renewal under the new restrictions, only four rejected the new terms.

Another 500 grants have not been subjected to the criteria but will by the end of the fiscal year.

Read more here.


CVS boosts hourly starting pay to $11 after tax cut

CVS Health announced Thursday it would boost starting wages for employees and increase other benefits, citing tax-reform legislation that gave the company a $1.5 billion tax break.

Effective April 2018, the starting wage for hourly employees will increase to $11 an hour from $9 an hour.

Pay ranges and rates for other employees, including front-of-store associates and retail pharmacy technicians, will also be adjusted later in the year, the company said.

Additionally, CVS Health will not increase premiums for the 100,000 employees participating in the company-sponsored health plan for the 2018-2019 plan year.

Read more here.


What we're reading

This drug has been used to treat PTSD symptoms. What happens when it fails a trial? (Stat News)

Drug industry wages opioid fight using an anti-addiction ally (The New York Times)

US FDA approves Gilead triple HIV drug, rival files lawsuit (Reuters)


State by state

New Mexico studies expanding Medicaid with buy-in coverage (Associated Press)  

Listen and read: A renewed push for single payer at Sacramento health care hearing  (KPCC)

Nebraska state workers could get new health care option (Associated Press)


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