FEATURED:

Overnight Health Care: House panel unveils eight bills on opioids | Dem presses health chief on gun violence research | Liberal think tank releases universal coverage plan

Overnight Health Care: House panel unveils eight bills on opioids | Dem presses health chief on gun violence research | Liberal think tank releases universal coverage plan
© Greg Nash

House panel announces opioid enforcement bills ahead of hearing

A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Thursday unveiled eight bills it will examine during a hearing next week on enforcement-related measures to help combat the opioid crisis.

Specifically, the hearing Wednesday will delve into how to help communities balance enforcement with patient safety; it's the first of three hearings the panel will convene on opioid legislation.

Energy and Commerce 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.) hopes for legislation to pass the House by Memorial Day weekend in an effort to staunch the opioid epidemic now killing more Americans per year than car accidents.

ADVERTISEMENT

The policies lawmakers will examine include updating scheduling guidelines to help clamp down on powerful synthetic opioids, letting hospice workers dispose of unused opioids, expanding access to behavioral health telemedicine in rural areas, making it harder to traffic synthetic drugs and more.

"As we continue our efforts to tackle this epidemic, it's imperative we strike the right balance between necessary enforcement and patient safety," Rep. Michael BurgessMichael Clifton BurgessCards Against Humanity offering midterm expansion pack in effort to back Dems in key races 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 Twitter’s Dorsey apologizes to McCain family for ‘unacceptable’ tweet MORE (R-Texas), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, said in a statement.

Read more here.

 

Study: Not enough providers to address opioid epidemic in 11 states

States in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic don't have enough doctors to address the opioid epidemic, according to a new study released this week.

Eleven states and the District of Columbia lack an adequate number of providers to prescribe buprenorphine, a medicine used to prevent relapse in people with opioid addictions, according to research from Avalere Health, a health consulting firm in Washington, D.C.

Allowing more nurses and physicians' assistants to prescribe buprenorphine could help curb the epidemic, Avalere concluded.

Under current federal law, nurse practitioners and physcian assistants can seek a federal waiver to prescribe buprenorphine, but can only treat a maximum of 30 patients per year.

Read more here.

 

Dem asks health chief for timeline on gun research

Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyElection Countdown: O'Rourke goes on the attack | Takeaways from fiery second Texas Senate debate | Heitkamp apologizes for ad misidentifying abuse victims | Trump Jr. to rally for Manchin challenger | Rick Scott leaves trail to deal with hurricane damage Senate Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia Dems damp down hopes for climate change agenda MORE (D-Mass.) is asking Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar what his next steps are on gun violence research after he expressed support for the idea last week.

In an unexpected move, Azar told a congressional hearing last week that he backs research on gun violence at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which he oversees. Starting that research is a top goal for Democrats on gun issues, and Markey said he was "heartened" by Azar's comments in a letter to Azar on Thursday.

Markey asks when research will begin, whether Congress needs to appropriate more money for the research, and whether the White House has had any contact with Azar about his support for the research.

Many Democrats have called for repealing a provision that many believe restricts CDC gun violence research, which states, "None of the funds made available in this title may be used, in whole or in part, to advocate or promote gun control."

Read more here.

 

Top Dems press Idaho on plan to get around ObamaCare rules

Top congressional Democrats are pressing Idaho on its controversial plan to circumvent certain ObamaCare requirements.

The top four Democrats on the congressional committees overseeing health care wrote to Idaho insurance commissioner Dean Cameron on Thursday asking if his moves comply with federal law and requesting a staff briefing on the state's plans.

"We strongly oppose efforts that result in higher costs and undermine consumer protections that are guaranteed by federal law that protect women, people with pre-existing conditions, and others facing discrimination in access to health care, and therefore request an explanation of how the Idaho Department of Insurance will regulate insurance plans being sold in the individual market that are not compliant with federal law," the letter reads.

The letter is signed by Sens. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: House passes funding bill | Congress gets deal on opioids package | 80K people died in US from flu last winter Wilkie vows no 'inappropriate influence' at VA Dems push back on using federal funds to arm teachers MORE (D-Wash.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma — Trump says GOP will support pre-existing condition protections | McConnell defends ObamaCare lawsuit | Dems raise new questions for HHS on child separations Republicans should prepare for Nancy Pelosi to wield the gavel US to open trade talks with Japan, EU, UK MORE (D-Ore.), and Reps. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneDems eye ambitious agenda if House flips Hillicon Valley: Facebook rift over exec's support for Kavanaugh | Dem worried about Russian trolls jumping into Kavanaugh debate | China pushes back on Pence House Democrat questions big tech on possible foreign influence in Kavanaugh debate MORE (D-N.J.) and Richard NealRichard Edmund NealTrump makes new overtures to Democrats Key Democrat will ask for Trump tax returns if House flips Better health outcomes at lower costs is a win that everyone can get behind MORE (D-Mass.).

At issue is the Republican governor of Idaho's move to allow insurers in the state to sell plans that do not meet ObamaCare requirements in an effort to encourage cheaper plans.

The new plans could charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions, which is not allowed under ObamaCare, and would not cover all of the health services required for ObamaCare plans.

Democrats say the proposal violates federal law and want Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to step in.

Read more here.

 

Liberal think tank releases universal coverage plan

The Center for American Progress (CAP) on Thursday released a universal health-care plan aimed at building on the coverage expansion from ObamaCare.

The leading center-left think tank enters a debate that has been accelerating among Democrats about how far to go in expanding on the Affordable Care Act with government-run insurance.  

The CAP plan, called Medicare Extra, would provide government-run health insurance modeled on Medicare for people currently on Medicare or Medicaid or in the individual ObamaCare market. Notably, it would preserve employer-sponsored health insurance, which is popular among many middle-class Americans, although it would give employers and employees the option of joining the government-run, Medicare Extra option.

By leaving employer-sponsored insurance as an option, the plan does not go as far as Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSanders: Trump setting 'terrible example' for our children Gabbard considering 2020 run: report Sanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa MORE's (I-Vt.) "Medicare for All" proposal. It could also make the CAP plan at least somewhat more politically feasible.

But the CAP plan goes farther than other Democratic ideas such as "Medicare X" from Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineAmerica’s ball cap industry is in trouble Overnight Defense: Trump says 'rogue killers' could be behind missing journalist | Sends Pompeo to meet Saudi king | Saudis may claim Khashoggi killed by accident | Ex-VA chief talks White House 'chaos' | Most F-35s cleared for flight Democrats torch Trump for floating 'rogue killers' to blame for missing journalist MORE (D-Va.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetEagles player sits out national anthem Trump administration denied it has ‘secret’ committee seeking negative information on marijuana: report Overnight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens MORE (D-Colo.), which would add a government-run option on ObamaCare's marketplaces but leave the rest of the current options in place.

The plans could lay the groundwork for Democratic efforts if they win the presidency in 2020 as well as control of both chambers of Congress.

Read more here.

 

What we're reading

Couple makes millions off Medicaid Managed Care as oversight lags (Kaiser Health News)

Black lung disease comes storming back in Coal Country (The New York Times)

Pharma's $50 billion tax windfall for investors (Axios)

 

State by state

Nebraska legislator seeks more state oversight of health care facilities (Omaha World Herald)

Va. Senate rejects bid to expand Medicaid (Daily Press)

Health care company faces criminal charges after man dies from dehydration in jail (Associated Press)

 

From The Hill's opinion pages

Emergency reform: It's time for change in our health care system

Police need more mental health training

On ObamaCare, Republicans in Congress should follow Trump

Undercutting the immunization program puts both lives and dollars at risk