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Overnight Health Care: House votes to repeal medical device tax | Fierce ObamaCare critic joins administration | GOP senators target DC individual mandate

Overnight Health Care: House votes to repeal medical device tax | Fierce ObamaCare critic joins administration | GOP senators target DC individual mandate
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Welcome to Tuesday's Overnight Health Care. It's a rainy, humid day in D.C., but that didn't stop reproductive rights groups and congressional Democrats from marching on the Department of Health and Human Services to protest proposed changes to the Title X family planning program.

 

If you're noticing that more people are talking about Title X, it's because the comment period for the proposed changes ends July 31.

The proposal would ban clinics that receive the funds from referring women for abortions and removes a requirement that Title X recipients present abortion as an option.

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The planned rule has been praised by anti-abortion groups as a way to block Planned Parenthood from receiving Title X funds.

 

Here's the rest of the day's stories...

 

The House voted to repeal ObamaCare's medical device tax.

It was a rare moment of (at least some) bipartisanship on health care. Repeal of the device tax passed 283 to 132, with 57 Democrats voting in favor.

Political context: The vote comes during a week of health-care measures put forward by the GOP as they try to blunt Democratic attacks over rising premiums, a key midterm message.

The vote could help Rep. Erik PaulsenErik Philip PaulsenPaul Ryan to campaign for 25 vulnerable House Republicans How America’s urban-rural divide is changing the Democratic Party The bipartisan PACT Act would ensure access to life-saving bone marrow transplants for Medicare beneficiaries MORE (R-Minn.), the sponsor of the bill, who faces a tough reelection fight this year.

"This bill reverses a harmful tax that is hurting job growth and innovation across the country," Paulsen said.

However: There is no clear path forward for the measure in the Senate this year.

Read more here.

 

CMS made some new staffing announcements Tuesday, including the hiring of a fierce ObamaCare critic. Former Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Paul Mango will join the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as chief principal deputy administrator and chief of staff to Seema Verma.

Mango, who has been critical of ObamaCare and called it a "disaster," also worked as a health care consultant for McKinsey & Company.

Read more here.

Other moves:

  • Chris Trayor joins CMS as the deputy administrator for strategic initiatives. He was most recently the executive commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
  • Brady Brookes, Verma's deputy chief of staff, has been promoted to deputy administrator.  

 

Six GOP senators target D.C.'s individual mandate.

Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump recounts 2016 feud with Cruz at Houston campaign rally Trump says he’s made up with ‘Beautiful Ted’ Cruz The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump says he is cutting foreign aid over caravan | Lawmakers point fingers at Saudi crown prince | DNC chair downplays 'blue wave' talk MORE (Texas), Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonFlake: Congress should not continue Kavanaugh investigations GOP senator suspects Schumer of being behind release of Ford letter Susan Collins becomes top 2020 target for Dems MORE (Ark.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeCongress raises pressure on Saudi Arabia Senators pledge action on Saudi journalist’s disappearance Bernie Sanders: US should pull out of war in Yemen if Saudis killed journalist MORE (Utah), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senator seeking information on FBI dealings with Bruce Ohr, former DOJ lawyer Election Countdown: O'Rourke brings in massive M haul | Deal on judges lets senators return to the trail | Hurricane puts Florida candidates in the spotlight | Adelson spending big to save GOP in midterms Senate Homeland chair vents Mueller probe is preventing panel from receiving oversight answers MORE (Wis.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.), and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioCongress raises pressure on Saudi Arabia Rubio: Khashoggi killing was ‘disrespectful to Trump’ O'Rourke's rise raises hopes for Texas Dems down ballot MORE (Fla.) introduced an amendment to a spending bill to block D.C. from using federal funds to re-implement ObamaCare's individual mandate.

"Under Obamacare, millions of Americans have lost their doctors, seen their premiums skyrocket, and have been forced into part time work," Cruz said. "Those Americans living in our nation's capital have not been exempt from those hardships.

Republicans passed a repeal of ObamaCare's mandate last year, but D.C. and three other states (Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont) have sought to implement statewide mandates, arguing they keep premiums low by encouraging healthy people to stay in the marketplaces.

The House last week passed an identical amendment, offered by Rep. Gary PalmerGary James PalmerOvernight Health Care: House votes to repeal medical device tax | Fierce ObamaCare critic joins administration | GOP senators target DC individual mandate The Hill's Morning Report — Russia furor grips Washington Freedom Caucus members see openings in leadership MORE (R-Ala.).

The reaction from D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes NortonEleanor Holmes NortonThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Steady Kavanaugh proves to be a tough target for Democrats Dems vow rules overhaul to empower members if House flips Overnight Health Care: House votes to repeal medical device tax | Fierce ObamaCare critic joins administration | GOP senators target DC individual mandate MORE (D):

"Senator Cruz needs to do more for Texas. Instead, he is stealing precious time and effort from his Texas constituents to abuse congressional power by interfering with the affairs of another Member's district.  As the main proponent of repealing the Affordable Care Act and stripping health insurance from millions of Americans, he cannot bear to see health care be offered even at the local level."

Chance of passage?: Not good. Republicans can't pass the spending bill alone, so it's not likely that leadership will let the amendment get included in the final version.

 

The Food and Drug Administration is working with several companies to initiate voluntary recalls of some snack foods.

The FDA says there is no evidence that anyone was sickened by the products, or that they are contaminated, but recalls are being initiated "out of an abundance of caution." The products potentially affected include:

  • Mondelez's Ritz cheese sandwiches and Ritz Bitz cheese products
  • Certain Pepperidge Farm's Goldfish
  • Flowers Foods' Swiss Rolls, which are sold under various brand names

Specific information about which items should be thrown out or returned to the store can be found here.

 

Cynthia Nixon endorses single-payer health care in New York

Another Democratic gubernatorial candidate is backing single payer on a state level.

New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon on Tuesday endorsed a statewide single-payer health-care system amid her challenge to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) from the left.

"Health care should be a human right, not a privilege for those who can afford it," Nixon says in a new video. "When I'm governor, we'll pass the New York Health Act and create a single-payer, Medicare-for-all-system that covers every New Yorker."

It's not just New York: Other Democratic gubernatorial candidates who support state-level single payer include Gavin Newsom in California and Ben Jealous in Maryland.

Words of caution: Single payer on the state level is difficult to pull off. Vermont, the home state of one of the most prominent champions of the idea, Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersHarris presses young people to vote early in Iowa trip Dems lower expectations for 'blue wave' Election 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 MORE (I), previously tried to set up a state-run single payer system but called it off in 2014 amid funding challenges.

Read more here.

 

Eli Lilly doesn't want HHS to explore drug importation. In some not-very-surprising news Tuesday, David Ricks, the CEO of Eli Lilly, denounced the Trump administration's proposal to consider ways to import prescription drugs from other countries.

Main quotes: "We think that's the wrong road to go down. This is really a regulatory failure from our perspective," Ricks said. "We agree it should be solved, [it's] the method we disagree with."

The idea: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced last week it is forming a working group to examine how the U.S. could import pharmaceuticals from abroad as a way to combat massive price hikes for drugs that are produced by a single manufacturer and aren't protected by patents or exclusivities.

The kicker: HHS Secretary Alex Azar used to run Lilly's U.S. division.

Read more about Ricks's comments here.

 

Ebola outbreak in Congo formally ends

Some good news in health care: An outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the heart of Congo has formally ended about four months after it began spreading through several remote villages and towns.

The central African nation's Ministry of Health on Tuesday said that Congo is now free of the disease, 42 days after the last case was diagnosed in early June. There were 53 confirmed and probable cases identified and 29 people died from the virus.

Several groups administered a new experimental vaccine to front-line health workers and to those who had come into contact with Ebola patients, a practice known as ring vaccination. About 3,300 people received the vaccine, and though researchers will have to continue to monitor their progress, none of those who received the vaccine got sick.

Read more here.

 

What we're reading

Red-state Senate Democrats are redoubling their efforts to protect ObamaCare (Vox.com)

Purdue Pharma edits public service ad in Washington Post (Kaiser Health News)

Health insurer Centene 'very enthusiastic' about Obamacare (Washington Examiner)

 

State by state

A vote expanded Medicaid in Maine. The governor is ignoring it. (New York Times)

Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayDems go on offense against GOP lawsuit on pre-existing conditions Trump attacks Democrat in Ohio governor's race Election Countdown: Minnesota Dems worry Ellison allegations could cost them key race | Dems struggle to mobilize Latino voters | Takeaways from Tennessee Senate debate | Poll puts Cruz up 9 in Texas MORE wants to build on the Medicaid expansion in Ohio for his gubernatorial health care plan (Cleveland.com