Overnight Health Care: New Jersey lawmakers pass ObamaCare mandate | Dems sound warning on short-term insurance plans | Poll finds majority back single payer

Overnight Health Care: New Jersey lawmakers pass ObamaCare mandate | Dems sound warning on short-term insurance plans | Poll finds majority back single payer
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Happy Friday and welcome to Overnight Health Care.

New Jersey lawmakers are taking matters into their own hands by passing an ObamaCare mandate, the majority of Americans now support single-payer health care and we just learned that drinking more than five adult beverages a week could shorten our lives by years. Catch up on the latest health care news before you start the weekend.


If signed by Gov. Phil Murphy (D), New Jersey would become the first state to issue a statewide health insurance requirement after Congress repealed the individual mandate last December.

Why it matters:  Some have argued repealing the requirement that people have insurance will lead to higher premiums because younger, healthier people might not feel enticed to buy coverage anymore. Insurers might also not want to offer coverage in an area if they think only sick people will buy it, leading to higher costs for them. 


It's not yet clear how this will play out, because the mandate repeal doesn't take effect until 2019. But states like New Jersey are trying to keep their markets stable ahead of the 2019 plan year. The state could be a trendsetter on mandates.

What's next: Keep an eye on California and Maryland, two states that are also considering such action.

Read more here.


This follows news from earlier this week, where the Trump administration announced that it would allow for more exemptions to the mandate while it's in effect in 2018.

Specifically, people living in counties with no insurers or only one insurer could be exempt from paying a fine when they file their taxes next year.

This would actually impact a fair amount of people. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 26 percent of ObamaCare enrollees live in areas where they only have access to one insurer.

Read more here.


Top Democrats in the House and Senate are also calling on the administration to withdraw a proposed rule that would expand access to plans that don't meet ObamaCare requirements.

From a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, led by Rep. Frank Pallone (N.J.), ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  

"This proposed rule would expand the availability of discriminatory, deceptive, and insufficient plans … that deceive consumers into thinking they are covered for major medical expenses, and is yet another attempt to sabotage the health care markets on which millions rely for coverage."

What's going on: Proposed administration rules would allow people to buy short-term health insurance for up to 12 months, lifting restrictions from the Obama administration that limited the coverage to a maximum of three months.

Why it's controversial: Those plans would not meet many of ObamaCare's consumer protection rules. People with pre-existing conditions could be charged more. Also, the plans don't have to comply with mandates to cover some services, like mental health care.

Read more here.


A new poll shows a slim majority of Americans -- 51 percent --  support single-payer health care while 43 percent oppose it.

Unsurprisingly, it's most popular among Democrats, with 74 percent supporting it. Fifty-four percent of independents support it while 80 percent of Republicans oppose it.

Why it matters: Republicans control the House, Senate, and the White House, and they hate single-payer. But it's becoming one of those issues that could sink a Democratic presidential candidate if they don't support it.


Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate Ben & Jerry’s co-founders announce effort to help 7 Dem House challengers Dems look to Gillum, Abrams for pathway to victory in tough states MORE's (I-Vt.) single-payer "Medicare for All" plan netted Democratic co-sponsors when it was introduced last year, many of whom are expected to run for president in 2020.

Read more here.


Before you go out for Friday night drinks, consider this from The Washington Post:

A sweeping international study of alcohol consumption has found no overall health benefits from moderate drinking and calls into question the U.S. guidelines that say men can safely drink twice as much as women. The threshold for low-risk drinking, the researchers found, is about seven beers a week for men and women alike.


Looking back on the week...

These were some of our most shared stories.

--Five executives from opioid distributors are being summoned to testify before Congress about their role in the nation's addiction crisis.

-- An HHS official was placed on leave for comments from 2016 promoting the Pizzagate conspiracy theory. Ximena Barreto, a deputy director of communications at HHS, pushed false claims about a nonexistent pedophilia ring at a Washington, D.C. pizzeria.

--A top insurance industry official warned about coming ObamaCare premium hikes.

--Senators from across the aisle are teaming forces to pressure the Justice Department over medical marijuana research. Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchKavanaugh accuser agrees to testify next week Judiciary Dems say GOP treating Kavanaugh accuser worse than Anita Hill Dem vows to probe 'why the FBI stood down' on Kavanaugh MORE (R-Utah.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSenate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh Poll: Most Massachusetts voters don't think Warren should run for president in 2020 Trump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle MORE (D-Calif.) said they are concerned by reports the DOJ is effectively blocking the Drug Enforcement Agency from approving more than two dozen requests to grow marijuana for use in research.

--There's another abortion fight brewing as House Republicans push to add abortion restrictions to the federal family planning grant program.

--In Arizona, the state house passed a bill requiring women to provide the reason why they're obtaining an abortion.

--And we profiled the Trump health appointee who is at the center of a new fight over religious freedom. Roger Severino is implementing strict rules at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) meant to protect religious rights -- and drawing pushback from Democrats and LGBT groups.


What we're watching next week:

The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing Thursday at 10 a.m. on tackling opioid and substance use disorders in Medicare, Medicaid and human services programs in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 215.


What we're reading:

Why America's black mothers and babies are in a life-and-death crisis (The New York Times)

Puerto Rico's slow-going recovery means new hardship for dialysis patients (Kaiser Health News)

Overdose antidote is supposed to be easy to get. It's not. (The New York Times)


State by state:

Virginia House panel OKs bill with Medicaid work requirement change (Associated Press)

Behind closed doors, Haslam asks again: Can Tennessee expand health care for working poor? (The Tennessean)

North Carolina just kicked 600 people off the state's health insurance (newsobserver.com)