Overnight Health Care: CDC says firearm deaths on the rise | GOP chairman wants review of drug price negotiators | Hundreds of children still separated after court deadline

Overnight Health Care: CDC says firearm deaths on the rise | GOP chairman wants review of drug price negotiators | Hundreds of children still separated after court deadline
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Happy Friday, and welcome to Overnight Health Care from a quiet Washington, where the House and Senate are both out. In today's big health care news, a GOP chairman is calling for regulators to review mergers involving drug price negotiators, and a court filing shows HHS still has 711 children who were not reunited with their families by a court-ordered deadline.


But first... A new CDC analysis shows firearm related deaths rose by 30 percent between 2014 and 2016.

The number of firearm related homicides increased from 11,008 in 2014 to 14,415 in 2016, the CDC says, after being relatively stable from 2010 to 2014.

Also of note:


In 2016, the number of homicides involving firearms was about eight-times higher than those involving cutting and piercing, at 1,781, and 30-times higher than those involving suffocation, some 502 deaths.

Context: A rash of school shootings this year has put a spotlight on the CDC's ability to study the causes of gun violence. It's not unusual for the CDC to analyze the numbers of those killed by firearms, but the report doesn't offer any analysis about why the numbers are rising.

Read more here.


Republican governor Charlie Baker signed a bill Friday repealing an unenforced, 173-year-old statewide abortion ban.

The Negating Archaic Statutes Targeting Young Women Act wipes a number of anti-abortion laws off of the books, though many have been ignored for decades.

NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, which pushed for the bill, said the intent is to safeguard access to abortion in the state given the rising uncertainty about the future of Roe v. Wade.

"This is a massive victory for reproductive freedom, and ensures that no matter what happens to [Roe v. Wade], abortion will always be legal in MA," the group tweeted Friday.

Why it matters: While it seems like low-hanging fruit -- given the law hasn't been enforced for 17 decades -- abortion rights advocates are combing through laws on the books in states cross the country as a challenge to Roe v. Wade becomes more likely.

Context: President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'I don't trust everybody in the White House' JPMorgan CEO withdraws from Saudi conference Trump defends family separations at border MORE's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has sparked fear in the hearts of abortion rights advocates. While we don't know Kavanaugh's thoughts on Roe v. Wade, or whether he thinks it was rightfully decided, Trump vowed during his presidential campaign to only nominate justices who would overturn the (still) controversial decision.

From Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts President Jennifer Childs-Roshak:

"As Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court puts the right to abortion on the line, Massachusetts is reaffirming we value reproductive rights, individual liberty, and the ability of all people to make their own decisions about their own bodies, their own lives, and their own futures. The constitutional right to access abortion is still on the line for women nationwide, and we must keep fighting -- and calling on the Senate to reject Kavanaugh."

Read more here.


GOP chairman requests Federal Trade Commission review of mergers by drug price negotiators

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenVulnerable Republicans throw ‘Hail Mary’ on pre-existing conditions GOP senator wants Apple, Amazon to give briefing on reported Super Micro hack Overnight Health Care: Bill banning 'gag clauses' on drugs heads to Trump's desk | Romney opposes Utah Medicaid expansion | GOP candidate under fire over ad on pre-existing conditions MORE (R-Ore.) wants a Federal Trade Commission review of recent mergers by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).

In a letter to the FTC, Walden writes there is "conflicting information" on the impact of these mergers, but wrote in some cases he feared the companies could have "used their market power to try to increase their profits and that PBMs have encouraged higher list prices for prescription drugs that increase co-pays for patients."

The context: Walden's request comes as scrutiny intensifies around drug pricing and as President Trump announces a series of actions to address the issue. But Walden's letter focuses not on drug companies themselves, where some advocates say the attention should be, but on other players in the system, who have come under pressure themselves as well.

Read more here.


From last night: A new court filing released Thursday shows hundreds of migrant children still separated from parents

The government reported that it has reunited 1,442 children ages 5 and older with their parents who were in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody and 378 have been "discharged in other appropriate circumstances," including to a sponsor or to their parents in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) custody.

But there are another 711 children in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement whose parents are either not eligible for reunification or unavailable.

That figure includes 120 children whose parents waived their right to reunification, 431 children whose parents are outside the U.S. and 94 children for whom the parent's location is still under review, Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys said in the filing.

Read more here


Happening next week:

In the House, nothing much. They're on recess for all of August. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP Senate candidate: Kavanaugh 'debacle' 'hugely motivating' to Missouri voters Trump praises McConnell: He ‘stared down the angry left-wing mob’ to get Kavanaugh confirmed Murkowski not worried about a Palin challenge MORE (R-Ky.) isn't sending anyone home just yet.



The Senate health committee will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. in the Dirksen Senate Office Building room 430 on reducing health care costs, with a focus on decreasing administrative spending.

The Senate Judiciary committee will hold an oversight hearing at 10 a.m. in SH-216 on immigration enforcement and family reunification efforts.  


What we're reading

The stealth campaign to kill off ObamaCare (The New York Times)

Meet the rebate, the new villain of high drug prices (The New York Times)


State by state

At Wyoming event, Friess, Santorum blast ObamaCare, support bringing back high-risk pools (Casper Star Tribune)

Kentucky makes Medicaid copays mandatory 'under the cover of darkness' (Louisville Courier-Journal)

Kansas opioid task force members angered by refusal to discuss Medicaid expansion (KCUR)