Overnight Healthcare

Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Abortion rights group plans $5M campaign to flip the House

Greg Nash

Welcome to Thursday’s Overnight Health Care, sponsored by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association.

Congress has left town for the Memorial Day recess, and we won’t be far behind. But first…


NARAL Pro-Choice America announced a $5 million campaign Thursday to try and flip the House in November.

“NARAL was built for this moment. Never before have our rights and freedoms been under greater attack, and never before have we had greater opportunity to fight back and win,” said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, an abortion rights group.

Why it matters: Both sides of the abortion issue are going all in for the midterms. The “Majority Maker” program is the largest spending plan in NARAL’s history. Planned Parenthood announced in its largest ever midterm investment – $20 million, and its counterpart, the anti-abortion Susan B.  Anthony List, aims to raise and spend $25 million for the midterms.

Bigger picture: Abortion rights groups want majorities in the House and Senate to undo abortion restrictions being handed down by the Trump administration. Democrats are limited on what they can do as the minority party in both Houses. 
We’ve got more on their midterm strategy here.



Sponsored content – Pharmaceutical Care Management Association

Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are hired by employers, unions, and government programs to negotiate aggressive discounts from drug companies and drugstores.  PBMs continue to keep overall spending and out-of-pocket costs down despite massive price hikes by drugmakers. Learn how PBMs are part of the solution to reducing Rx costs at DrugBenefitSolutions.com.



Planned Parenthood says its considering suing the Trump administration over its proposed changes to Title X, the federal government’s only program dedicated solely to family planning.

“We will absolutely consider all of our options and that does include litigation,” said Dr. Gillian Dean, senior director of medical services at Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

The National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, a membership organization of Title X family planning clinics, also said it would consider litigation.

“We will seriously contemplate legal action as we’ve already had to do, and will do so in this case as well,” said Clare Coleman, president and CEO of the group.

Why it matters: Family planning clinics that refer patients for abortions or share space with abortion providers would be ineligible for Title X funds under the proposed rules. This could dramatically reshape the network of family planning providers in the U.S., especially since Planned Parenthood serves 40 percent of patients who use Title X services.

The proposed regulations could open the door to more groups participating in the program that are opposed to abortion, like faith-based groups and pregnancy resource centers. If the administration moves forward with their proposal, which they’re expected to, litigation is really the only option for Planned Parenthood and NFPRHA.

Read more on the potential legal fight here.


Looking ahead… Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar will testify on Capitol Hill June 12 about Trump’s proposal to lower drug prices.

Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) did not indicate whether the hearing would result in legislation.

Why it matters: Expect tough questions from Democrats, who have accused Azar of being too soft on the pharmaceutical industry.

More here.





2017 will likely be the third year straight the U.S. saw a decline in life expectancy, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That’s because the U.S. death rate rose last year, to about 734 deaths per 100,000 people. 
According to the CDC, deaths rates rose for Alzheimer’s, diabetes, flu and pneumonia. Full data isn’t available yet for deaths related to drug overdoses, suicides and firearms but partial data shows increases in those categories.

Read more here from the Associated Press.


Lawmakers look to help rural health care

The Senate Finance Committee on Thursday examined ways to boost rural health care, reports The Hill’s Emily Birnbaum. The hearing comes at a time when public attention is trained on the health of rural communities, particularly those hit by the opioid epidemic.

Lawmakers focused on two issues: helping struggling rural hospitals and finding ways to recruit and retain qualified doctors in those areas.

125 rural hospitals have closed across the U.S. since 2005; 83 have closed since 2010.

Key quote: “Where you live should not determine if you live,” said Konnie Martin, the CEO of San Luis Valley Health, a regional health provider in Colorado. 

Medicaid fights: There were some heated moments when lawmakers sparred over Republican attempts to Medicaid. “People in rural communities feel like there’s a wrecking ball headed their way because the Trump administration and half of Congress have spent the last 15 months desperately trying to make huge cuts to Medicaid,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the committee’s ranking Democrat.  

But Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) was having none of it.

“Let me just set the record straight,” Hatch said. “The decline of rural hospitals started long before Medicaid expansion and prior to the Trump administration, of course.”



Sponsored content – Pharmaceutical Care Management Association

Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) have outlined several policy solutions to ensure patients receive opioid prescriptions when safe and medically appropriate. One important solution would be requiring e-prescribing of controlled substances in Medicare (S. 2460 / H.R. 3528, the Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act). A new study by the Opioid Safety Alliance finds this could save taxpayers $13 billion over 10 years.



What we’re reading

Pfizer to pay $24 Million to settle probe into copay assistance charities (The Wall Street Journal)

A pioneering heart surgeon’s secret history of research violations, conflicts of interest and poor outcomes (ProPublica)

Opioid court fights risk repeating tobacco’s failures (Politico)


State by state

Judge asked to order Maine governor to start Medicaid expansion (Associated Press)

Iowa governor dismisses call for Medicaid review (wcfcourier.com)

Virginia Senate puts off Medicaid vote with Democrats unable to pull off ‘nuclear’ move (The Washington Post)


From the Hill’s opinion page:

If we want better health care at a lower cost, primary care must become a policy priority

Arizona shows how America can expand access to dental care

We need reform at the WHO if we actually care about global health issues

Tags Lamar Alexander Orrin Hatch Ron Wyden

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

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