Overnight Health Care: Collins says Kavanaugh sees Roe v. Wade as 'settled law' | Insurers back pricing disclosure measure | Pfizer extends EpiPen expiration dates amid shortage

Overnight Health Care: Collins says Kavanaugh sees Roe v. Wade as 'settled law' | Insurers back pricing disclosure measure | Pfizer extends EpiPen expiration dates amid shortage
© Greg Nash

Happy Tuesday, and welcome to Overnight Health Care. In case you missed anything in the health care world in the wake of the Michael Cohen plea, the Paul Manafort verdict and the Trump rally in West Virginia, worry not, we have you covered.

Today's big story in health care involves Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.


Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsRosenstein faces Trump showdown Kavanaugh: I'm asking for a 'fair process' Collins: Second Kavanaugh accuser should speak with Senate panel under oath  MORE says Kavanaugh considers Roe v. Wade 'settled law'.

Collins (R-Maine), a key vote, has been sounding pretty positive about the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.

Collins said Tuesday that Kavanaugh assured her during their meeting that he believes the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion is "settled law."


"We talked about whether he considered Roe to be settled law. And he said that he agreed with what Justice [John] Roberts said at his nomination hearing, at which he said that it was settled law," Collins told reporters.

Her comments come after she had a roughly two-hour, closed-door meeting with Kavanaugh, making it one of his longest one-on-one sitdowns with a senator.

"We talked at length about precedent and the application of stare decisis to the abortion cases," she said, referring to the judicial doctrine of precedent.

"We talked about executive power. ... We talked about his judicial philosophy."

Read more about the meeting here.


Democrats and their allies appeared unmoved by Collins's comments.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump slams Sessions in exclusive Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh accuser wants FBI investigation MORE (D-N.Y.) compared Kavanaugh's answer to a "judicial dodge."

"This is not as simple as Judge Kavanaugh is saying Roe is settled law. Everything the Supreme Court decides is settled law until it unsettles it. Saying a case is settled law is not the same thing as saying a case was correctly decided," Schumer told reporters.

NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue said Collins's reference to Roberts was "troubling."

More reaction here.


Insurers back amendment to force pharma price disclosures.

The insurance lobby is backing a bipartisan amendment to a government spending bill that would require drug companies to disclose the pricing information in direct-to-consumer advertising.

It's not clear yet whether the amendment from Sens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyFord's lawyer: Hearing doesn't appear to be designed for 'fair', 'respectful' treatment GOP opens door to holding Kavanaugh committee vote this week Press: Judge Kavanaugh must withdraw MORE (R-Iowa) and Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinAmnesty International calls to halt Kavanaugh nomination Fox's Chris Wallace: All 10 Democratic Senate Judiciary members again declined interview invitations Durbin: ‘No reason’ for people to remember Kavanaugh at party accuser describes MORE (D-Ill.) will get a vote, but the disclosure requirement was included in President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown MORE's drug pricing blueprint. The bipartisan nature of the amendment could push it across the finish line.

In a letter to Durbin and Grassley, America's Health Insurance Plans praised the amendment.

"Your amendment--by taking an important step toward disclosure of pharmaceutical pricing information--recognizes that greater transparency is a crucial ingredient of the broad-based strategy that is needed to put downward pressure on prescription drug prices," AHIP wrote.

The details: Experts are not sure whether forcing drug companies to show the list prices would actually do much to bring down costs, but in the long-running battle over high drug prices, the insurance industry is happy to point fingers at drug companies.

The industry group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has said the information that would be disclosed in the ads -- list prices -- are often not the prices insurers pay and are generally not a good indicator of what patients will pay at the pharmacy counter.

They also raised First Amendment concerns at the government mandating any type of speech.

Durbin and Grassley want to attach the amendment to a massive Defense, Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor and Education funding bill that is currently being debated on the Senate floor.


In other news about that bill...

Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulA Senator Gary Johnson could be good not just for Libertarians, but for the Senate too Conservatives left frustrated as Congress passes big spending bills Senate approves 4B spending bill MORE wants to use the spending bill to defund Planned Parenthood.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has filed an amendment to the health, defense and labor bill that would prevent federal funding from going to the organization and others that perform abortions.

"This is our chance to turn our words into action, stand up for the sanctity of life, and speak out for the most innocent among us that have no voice," Paul said in a statement.

The Kentucky Republican added that preventing taxpayer dollars from going to abortion providers should be "one of the top priorities" for the GOP-controlled Congress.

The trouble for Paul: Despite Republicans having control of the White House and both houses of Congress, they've been unable to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood. But this amendment is not likely the way it will happen. Leadership has agreed to avoid attaching so-called poison pill proposals to their legislation, so it will be a struggle to get a vote on Paul's amendment.

Read more here  


McCaskill presses Trump official on lawsuit against pre-existing condition protections.

Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillDisclosures suggest rebates and insurers responsible for rising out-of-pocket drug costs Midterm polling data favors Democrats — in moderation Nelson campaign to donate K from Al Franken group to charity MORE (D-Mo.) made clear again Tuesday that she's putting a lawsuit against ObamaCare's protections for pre-existing conditions at the center of her reelection campaign.

"There does not seem to be any sense of urgency about the fact that this lawsuit is moving its way through the courts and could blow up all of the protections," McCaskill said in questioning CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

"I just want you to walk us down what happens if the administration is successful in their lawsuit," she added.

Verma responded that she supports protections for people with pre-existing conditions and that if the lawsuit backed by the administration against ObamaCare is successful she would work with Congress to try to reinstate them.

"I agree with you that those individuals should have the appropriate protections in place, and if the law changes in any way, shape or form around that, we would work with Congress to address that issue to make sure that they had the appropriate protections in place," Verma said.

Read more here.


Pfizer extends some EpiPen expiration dates amid national shortage.

The Food and Drug Administration is working with Pfizer to extend the expiration dates for some EpiPens amid a national shortage of the allergy drug.

Pfizer will extend by four months expiration dates of EpiPen 0.3 milligram Auto-Injectors and its authorized generic.

"Patients should have confidence in using the products from these particular lots as Pfizer works to stabilize supply, which is anticipated in the fourth-quarter of 2018," Pfizer said in a statement Tuesday.

Why it matters: There's been a nationwide shortage of EpiPens for months, with Pfizer citing "manufacturing constraints."

"Pfizer is working tirelessly to increase production and expedite shipments as rapidly as possible," the company said. "Currently supplies vary from pharmacy to pharmacy, and we cannot guarantee that product will be available at all pharmacies."

Read more here.


Join The Hill Wednesday, Sept. 12 for "A Healthy Start: Infant and Early Childhood Nutrition," featuring Reps. Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.) and Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottHealthy business vs healthy people — how will this administration address the two? Washington turns focus to child nutrition The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — McConnell warns of GOP `knife fight’ to keep Senate control MORE (D-Va.), and Administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service Brandon Lipps. Editor in Chief Bob Cusack will sit down with the headliners to discuss maternal, infant, and early childhood nutrition, and what steps can be taken to establish healthier eating patterns across all communities. RSVP here.


What we're reading

Poll: Most American know about the opioid antidote and are willing to use it (NPR)

GOP senator to NIH: Retire your chimPs faster (STAT)


State by state

U.S. approves waiver to allow Maryland to lower ObamaCare premium costs (Baltimore Sun)

Ohio Gov. Kasich touts benefits of Medicaid expansion (cincinnati.com)


From The Hill's opinion page

Health-care worker infections add to Ebola challenge in Congo