Overnight Health Care: House leaves out ObamaCare fix from funding bill | Trump appointees pushed to end teen pregnancy program | Key Dem raises concerns over potential CDC pick

Overnight Health Care: House leaves out ObamaCare fix from funding bill | Trump appointees pushed to end teen pregnancy program | Key Dem raises concerns over potential CDC pick

House leaves out ObamaCare fix from must-pass funding bill

ObamaCare payments aimed at lowering premiums will not be included in the House's government funding bill, in a significant defeat for backers of the effort.

Multiple GOP lawmakers said the payments are not being included, in large part because of a dispute with Democrats over abortion restrictions known as the Hyde Amendment.

Republicans need Democratic votes to pass the funding bill, so with firm Democratic opposition to the abortion restriction on the ObamaCare funds, the provisions were dropped.

The absence of the payments is a blow to Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsManchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia Conservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns MORE (R-Maine), in particular, given that she secured support for the provisions from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellElection Countdown: Takeaways from heated Florida governor's debate | DNC chief pushes back on 'blue wave' talk | Manchin faces progressive backlash | Trump heads to Houston rally | Obama in Las Vegas | Signs of huge midterm turnout Sanders: Democrats ‘absolutely’ have chance to win back rural America  Trump privately ready to blame Ryan and McConnell if Republicans lose midterms: report MORE (R-Ky.) in exchange for her vote for the tax-reform bill in December.

She, along with Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderDems blast Trump rule changes on ObamaCare Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Senate blocks Dem measure on short-term health plans | Trump signs bill banning drug price 'gag clauses' | DOJ approves Aetna-CVS merger | Juul ramps up lobbying Trump signs bills banning drug pricing 'gag clauses' MORE (R-Tenn.), pushed hard for the payments to be included, but the abortion issue proved to be a high obstacle.

Alexander and Collins on Tuesday did not admit defeat, but said the omnibus is the last opportunity to get the measure passed. Alexander expressed frustration with Democrats, and said he doesn't see how any fixes to ObamaCare can ever happen if Democrats continue to object to Hyde restrictions. 

Read more here.


Political appointees led cancellation of teen pregnancy prevention program

Political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) went against career officials' objections by deciding to cut short grants aimed at preventing teen pregnancy, according to internal emails and memos.

Documents released under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request indicate that three political appointees directed the changes to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) program: Valerie Huber, who prior to joining HHS headed a national abstinence education advocacy group; Teresa Manning, a former anti-abortion rights lobbyist who has since left HHS; and Steven Valentine, who previously worked for Rep. Chris SmithChristopher (Chris) Henry SmithElection Countdown: Midterm fight heats up over Kavanaugh | McConnell sees energized base | Dems look to women to retake House | How suburban voters could decide control of Congress | Taylor Swift backs Tennessee Dems | Poll shows Cruz up 5 in Texas Dem 2020 primary season is unofficially underway Trump's move on unethical fetal tissue experimentation isn't enough MORE (R-N.J.), chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus.

Activist group Democracy Forward had filed the FOIA request after the Trump administration abruptly cut short grant programs aimed at ending teen pregnancy. More than 80 institutions across the U.S. were notified that the five-year grants they were awarded would end two years sooner than planned.

Evelyn Kappeler, a career official and director of the HHS Office of Adolescent Health, which oversees the TPP program, wrote in memos that her office was not aware of the changes until the last minute.

Read more here.


FDA takes first step in regulating flavors in tobacco products

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants to know how it should regulate flavors in tobacco products, which appeal to children but may play a role in helping some adult smokers move to potentially less harmful tobacco products.

On Tuesday, the FDA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, soliciting stakeholder comment for the next 90 days on data, research and information on the role flavors -- including menthol cigarettes -- play in tobacco usage, initiation and cessation.

"In the spirit of our commitment to preventing kids from using tobacco, we are taking a closer look at flavors in tobacco products to better understand their level of impact on youth initiation," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a press release.

Read more here.


Top Senate Dem raises concerns over potential CDC pick

A top-ranking Senate Democrat said she was concerned about the Trump administration's reported choice to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Sen. 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.), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, sent a letter to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump to fundraise for 3 Republicans running for open seats: report Trump to nominate former Monsanto exec to top Interior position White House aides hadn’t heard of Trump's new tax cut: report MORE, saying she was worried about Robert Redfield's lack of public health experience, as well as his controversial past as an AIDS researcher.

In the 1990s, Redfield was investigated for misrepresenting data to promote an AIDS vaccine that he was connected with. Earlier in his career, Redfield also advocated for policies like mandatory patient testing for HIV, and for segregating HIV-positive soldiers from the rest of the Army.

"This pattern of ethically and morally questionable behavior leads me to seriously question whether Dr. Redfield is qualified to be the federal government's chief advocate and spokesman for public health," Murray wrote.

Read more here.


Judge blocks Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks

A law in Mississippi that bans women from receiving abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy was temporarily blocked Tuesday by a federal judge.

The Associated Press reported that U.S District Judge Carlton Reeves granted a temporary restraining order on Tuesday. It was sought by the state's only clinic that offers abortions.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) signed the bill -- the nation's most restrictive abortion ban -- into law earlier this week.

Read more here.


What we're reading:

Reporter's notebook: Theranos and the mysterious Walgreens fire alarm (Kaiser Health News)

The other opioid crisis: Hospitals are running short of powerful painkillers (Los Angeles Times)

CVS to hire former Eli Lilly CFO to run pharmacy benefit business (Wall Street Journal)


State by state

State officials hope to make 'state-based' insurance plans available by end of April (Times News)

Tennessee House approves bill seeking federal OK for Medicaid work requirement (timesfreepress.com)
Arizona governor's school-shooter proposal adds cops, mental-health services to campuses (Arizona Capitol Times)


Opinions in The Hill

Supreme Court must agree with California and end lies spread by fake women's health centers

Congress must protect health care access from being denied based on flawed analysis

Baltimore health commissioner: Trump's opioid announcement yesterday was deeply troubling

Are we doing enough to protect the health care supply chain?