Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Dems want answers on DOJ ObamaCare decision

Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Dems want answers on DOJ ObamaCare decision
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Welcome to Overnight Health Care, sponsored by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association.

We're over halfway through the week! Today we learned that a child in Idaho is being treated for the plague. It's a rare condition with only eight confirmed cases in Oregon and two in Idaho since 1990, according to WXYZ Detroit.

And now today's big stories...


Insurance experts say ObamaCare mandate repeal driving up premiums

Democrats got some more evidence to use against Republicans to argue that the GOP is to blame for rising premiums.

The American Academy of Actuaries says that the elimination of the individual mandate penalty and the expansion of cheaper health plans with fewer benefits will contribute to premium increases next year.

"The individual market, which had shown signs of stabilizing, now faces a potential deterioration of the risk pool due to policy changes that reduce incentives for healthy individuals to enroll in ACA marketplace plans. This deterioration and other factors could drive premiums higher for 2019," said Academy Senior Health Fellow Cori Uccello.

Democrats quickly seized on the report.

More on the report and the politics here.



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Drugmakers set and raise the price of prescription drugs unrelated to the rebates they negotiate with pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).  The most direct way for drugmakers to reduce costs and improve access is to simply cut their own prices.



House Dems turn the screws on GOP on pre-existing condition protections

Democrats have been seizing on the Trump administration's argument in court that ObamaCare's pre-existing condition protections should be overturned.

On Wednesday, House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiPelosi meets with Parkland students and parents, says gun control would be atop Dems’ agenda The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns Election 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 MORE (Calif.) held a press conference to blast the GOP over the move.

And Democratic committee leaders wrote a letter to the administration.

The lawmakers asked HHS if it conducted any analysis on the impact the decision will have on the country's health-care system.

The decision "breaks with DOJ's longstanding tradition of defending laws enacted by the United States Congress, and constitutes yet another attempt by the Trump Administration to sabotage the [Affordable Care Act] at the expense of consumers across the nation," the letter said.

Key takeaway: Democrats view health care as a winning issue for them in the November midterm elections, and the letter is the latest example of members pressing their perceived advantage.

We explain the controversy here.

And we've got the letter here.



The Senate Health Committee will vote next week on a bill aimed at cutting maternal mortality rates in the U.S.

Sponsored by Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampFive takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Live coverage: Heitkamp faces Cramer in high-stakes North Dakota debate Sexual assault survivor named in Heitkamp ad: 'She definitely lost my vote' MORE (D-N.D.) and Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Dem path to a Senate majority narrows GOP shrugs off dire study warning of global warming Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Senators face Wednesday vote on Trump health plans rule | Trump officials plan downtime for ObamaCare website | Lawmakers push for action on reducing maternal deaths MORE (R-W.Va.), the bill would support state-level efforts to form review committees that specifically track and investigate pregnancy-related deaths and then look for ways to prevent future deaths from occurring.

Why it matters: For every 100,000 live births in America, 26.4 women experience pregnancy-related deaths, according to a study published in The Lancet, a general medical journal.

There is also a racial disparity, with black women four times as likely to die from pregnancy than white women.

On average, among developed countries, there are 12 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to the World Health Organization.

More on the bill here.


The House passed even more opioid bills.

Yesterday, the chamber passed 25 bills aimed at addressing the opioid epidemic, which is leading to an estimated 115 American deaths per day.

On Wednesday, the chamber passed even more, such as a bill to establish an interagency task force to better the federal government's response for families impacted by addiction and another aimed at giving the FDA more power to seize drugs.



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The Congressional Budget Office's $43 billion score of point-of-sale rebates in Medicare Part D is the latest in a series of official estimates showing this mandate would increase costs for the government and taxpayers. This score strikes another blow to the drugmakers' multi-million dollar campaign to shift blame for their own prices onto the health plans and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) that negotiate discounts and rebates to reduce costs.



What we're reading

Unwieldy health costs often stand between teachers and higher pay (Kaiser Health News)

Costs are rising for employer-sponsored insurance -- again (CBS News)

Major opioids legislation is taking shape. Can it make a dent in a national epidemic? (Stat)

State by state

As Medicaid costs soar, these states are trying a new approach (Kaiser Health News)

Did Nevada's Heller back bill to cut pre-existing conditions protections? (Politifact)

Kentucky's Medicaid work requirement faces reckoning in court (Modern Healthcare)
New York doctors wrote more opioid prescriptions after pharma payments (CNN)


From The Hill's opinion pages

New Jersey's disastrous decision to resurrect ObamaCare's individual mandate