Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — DOJ move against ObamaCare sets off frenzy

Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — DOJ move against ObamaCare sets off frenzy
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Welcome to Overnight Health Care, sponsored by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association.


We're happy it's Friday, but we're not heading out for the weekend without first bringing you up to date on the fallout and reactions to the latest ObamaCare legal battle.


The Trump administration on Thursday night declined to defend ObamaCare against a lawsuit from Texas and 19 other GOP-led states that argue the law is unconstitutional.

The conventional wisdom is still that the suit has little chance of success, but it set off a flurry of reactions and activity.


Dems blasted the Trump administration move as a 'stunning attack on the rule of law'

"The Justice Department's refusal to defend the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) in federal court is a stunning attack on the rule of law, the stability of our health care system, and Americans' access to affordable health care," said Reps. Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottOvernight Health Care: House panel advances legislation on surprise medical bills | Planned Parenthood, ACLU sue over Trump abortion coverage rule | CDC identifies 13th US patient with coronavirus House panel advances bipartisan surprise billing legislation despite divisions Ex-HHS chief threatens to vote 'no' on surprise medical billing measure MORE (Va.), Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneOvernight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments Obstacles remain for deal on surprise medical bills This week: House impeachment inquiry hits crucial stretch MORE (N.J.) and Richard NealRichard Edmund NealWyden, Mnuchin clash over Trump tax returns, Hunter Biden probe Overnight Health Care: House panel advances legislation on surprise medical bills | Planned Parenthood, ACLU sue over Trump abortion coverage rule | CDC identifies 13th US patient with coronavirus White House warns of raising health costs in debate over surprise medical bills MORE (Mass.), the top three Democrats on the House health-care committees.

Political strategy: Democrats are seeking to tie the Justice Department's actions into their argument that the Trump administration is "sabotaging" health care and driving up premiums, a key midterm message.

"The administration's attempt to eliminate protections for the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions is just the latest -- and potentially the most damaging -- example of the coordinated effort by congressional Republicans and the Trump administration to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, driving up uninsured rates and out-of-pocket costs for Americans," the Democrats said.


More on their reaction here.



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Health insurers also opposed the conservative states' lawsuit

Health insurers are desperate to finally get some certainty in the ObamaCare markets, and this lawsuit does not help them on that front. Experts warned insurers could raise premiums due to the added uncertainty.

What the health insurance lobby, America's Health Insurance Plans, is saying:

"Zeroing out the individual mandate penalty should not result in striking important consumer protections, such as guaranteed issue and community rating rules that help those with pre-existing conditions," the insurers said.

"Removing those provisions will result in renewed uncertainty in the individual market, create a patchwork of requirements in the states, cause rates to go even higher for older Americans and sicker patients, and make it challenging to introduce products and rates for 2019. Instead, we should focus on advancing proven solutions that ensure affordability for all consumers."


On a different front, there could be some bipartisanship on one health area: targeting drug price 'middlemen'


With public outrage growing over the rising costs of prescription drugs, Congress is targeting the middlemen they say are to blame.

Specifically, lawmakers are moving to ban "gag clauses" that prohibit pharmacies from telling customers they can save money on a drug if they pay with cash instead of using their health insurance.

These clauses are sometimes included in contracts between pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers -- the middlemen who act as negotiators between drug companies and insurers.

Legislative action to watch: A bill from Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Lawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response | Top official warns virus appears inevitable in US | Democrats block two Senate abortion bills Democrats block two Senate abortion bills Trump creates new headaches for GOP with top intelligence pick MORE (R-Maine) to ban gag clauses is expected to come up for a committee vote on June 20. Rep. Buddy CarterEarl (Buddy) Leroy CarterLoeffler works to gain traction with conservatives amid Collins primary bid Republicans came to the table on climate this year Republicans storm closed-door hearing to protest impeachment inquiry MORE (R-Ga.) also has a bill in the House.

Read more here.




Maine governor appeals court order mandating Medicaid expansion

Maine Gov. Paul LePage is keeping up his resistance to Medicaid expansion even after a court ordered his administration to comply. He is now appealing the decision.

Background from earlier this week: Michaela Murphy, a Maine Superior Court justice, ruled Monday afternoon that the state must submit a plan to the federal government by June 11 detailing how it plans to expand Medicaid.

Maine voters approved expansion in November through a citizen-led ballot measure, but LePage has fought back at every turn.

He said he wouldn't implement expansion unless state legislators found a way to pay for it without raising taxes. But expansion supporters argued the governor's estimate was too high.

His administration missed the April 3 deadline to send a plan to the federal government, prompting lawsuits from the Maine Equal Justice Partners and Consumers for Affordable Health Care.


Read more on the new appeal from the Portland Press Herald.



We started the week with a look at how states are defying President TrumpDonald John TrumpWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE on ObamaCare. Health advocates are also seeing momentum on Medicaid expansion. A federal judge ordered the administration to process grants for a teen pregnancy program officials are trying to restrict. A judge in Maine, meanwhile, ordered the state to take steps to implement a voter-approved Medicaid expansion. Lawmakers expressed concerns about HHS's cybersecurity readiness. Medicare trustees said the program's trust fund will run out years sooner than expected. After McConnell said he would cancel the August recess, Schumer called on him to devote the month to health care issues. Abroad, health workers found good news as the Ebola outbreak appeared to be slowing in the Congo. A report claimed Trump is planning a massive reorganization of HHS and the government's welfare programs. The White House has a new ad campaign to combat opioid addiction that is turning heads. Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOcasio-Cortez: Trump would 'never' say to her face some of the shots he takes at her on Twitter Oversight Committee room to be dedicated to late Rep. Elijah Cummings Lawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response MORE said Democrats should evaluate "Medicare For All" if they retake the House. Virginia's governor signed Medicaid expansion into law. And the Justice Department is arguing in court that key parts of ObamaCare are unconstitutional.



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What we're reading

Defying prevention efforts, suicide rates are climbing across the nation (The New York Times)

Cancer patients pay thousands to save their fertility. New laws aim to change that (Huffington Post)

What Hurricane Maria's death toll reveals about health care in Puerto Rico (Harvard Business Review)


State by state

Delaware lawmakers send bill banning conversion therapy to governor (WisconsinGazette.com)

Louisiana is still the worst state nationwide for children, report says (NOLA.com)