Overnight Healthcare

Overnight Health Care: GOP senators unveil pre-existing conditions bill | Ex-CDC head arrested on charges of groping woman | Nebraska to vote on Medicaid expansion

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Welcome to Overnight Health Care, TGIF edition.

Tennessee is trying to cut off Medicaid funds to abortion providers, the former head of the Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention (CDC) was arrested in New York, and senators want to know if Rudy Giuliani was the reason the federal government was too lenient on Purdue Pharma.

We’ll start with a new GOP bill in the Senate:

GOP senators introduce bill to preserve ObamaCare’s pre-existing conditions protections

Ten GOP senators this week introduced legislation that they say would protect ObamaCare provisions for people with pre-existing conditions if the law is repealed.

The bill, introduced on Thursday, comes as congressional Democrats try to tie Republicans to the Trump administration’s decision not to defend some ObamaCare provisions in a federal lawsuit filed by red states.

The legislation is an effort by the GOP to push back on the Democratic attacks, and it shows the concern among Republicans over the court case ahead of the midterms.

What will it do? Senate Republicans said their bill would amend federal law to guarantee the availability of health insurance to all Americans, including those with pre-existing conditions, regardless of the outcome in the federal lawsuit.

But there’s a catch: The legislation also would prevent insurers from increasing premiums due to pre-existing conditions. However, health experts note that the bill would allow insurers to exclude coverage of pre-existing conditions. Premiums could also vary based on age, gender, or occupation — all of which is currently prohibited under ObamaCare.

Backstory: A group of Republican state attorneys general, led by Texas, are attempting to have a court rule that ObamaCare is unconstitutional because of the elimination of the individual mandate penalty. The Trump administration is not defending the law, and has partly sided with the plaintiffs. If the states win, ObamaCare’s pre-existing condition protections will be struck down.

Read more here.

Former CDC director arrested on charges of groping woman

There are serious charges against Tom Frieden, the former CDC head who was front and center on the Obama administration’s efforts to fight diseases like Ebola and Zika.

He was arrested Friday in New York amid allegations he groped a woman in his apartment.

According to the New York Police Department, he was charged with forcible touching, sexual abuse and harassment after he inappropriately touched a woman in October 2017. He is accused of grabbing a woman’s buttocks. The woman reported the incident in July, police said.

A spokesperson for Frieden told The Hill that the allegation “does not reflect” his “public or private behavior or his values over a lifetime of service to improve health around the world.”

Read more here.

Trump officials to consider Tennessee proposal to block Planned Parenthood from Medicaid program

Tennessee is asking the Trump administration for permission to ban Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood and abortion providers.

The proposal would exclude any organization from its Medicaid program if it performed, operated, maintained or is affiliated with a facility that performed more than 50 abortions in the previous year.

Wendy Long — the director of Tennessee’s Medicaid program, called TennCare — submitted the state’s request to the Trump administration on Aug. 10.

The administration opened the proposal for public comment on Friday with an end date of Sept. 23. After a review of public comments, the administration will make a decision.

Why it matters: Tennessee is the second state to ask the Trump administration to approve a proposal that would cut abortion providers from its Medicaid program. The administration has not yet announced a decision on a request from Texas, sent over a year ago.

But in January, the administration signaled that it would look favorably upon efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.

Read more here.

Dem senators question Giuliani relationship with OxyContin maker

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who has most recently drawn attention for his role serving as President Trump’s lawyer, is facing scrutiny from some Democrats over his past work with opioid maker Purdue Pharma.

Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) sent separate letters to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), seeking to find out whether Giuliani’s simultaneous work on behalf of both agencies while he was representing Purdue in the mid-2000s may have led to unduly lenient treatment for the company.

Purdue manufactures OxyContin, and the company has come under fire for its alleged deceptive and fraudulent marketing of the drug. The company is accused of intentionally misleading the public by hiding the drug’s potential for abuse.

Purdue is currently facing dozens of lawsuits for the role OxyContin has allegedly played in the country’s opioid epidemic.

In the letters, the senators cite reports that while representing Purdue Pharma in negotiations with the DOJ over the fraudulent marketing schemes, Giuliani’s firm was part of a $1 million consulting contract with DOJ to provide advice on reorganizing its major drug investigations.

At the same time, Giuliani was also personally raising money for a DEA museum.

Read more here.

Nebraska will vote on Medicaid expansion this fall

Nebraska voters will get a chance to decide if they want the state to expand Medicaid. Secretary of State John Gale (R) officially certified that activists had submitted enough signatures for the question to make it onto the ballot. Over 104,000 Nebraskans signed the petition; 84,269 were needed.

Nebraska will become the fourth red state where health activists have successfully put Medicaid expansion on the ballot. Idaho and Utah will also vote on expansion, while Montana will vote to make its expansion permanent. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid, while mostly red states have held out.

What we’re reading

The GOP Says Expanding Medicaid Fueled The Opioid Crisis. This Study Shows Otherwise. (HuffPost)

We’re failing in the opioid crisis. A new study shows a more serious approach would save lives. (Vox.com)

Sacha Baron Cohen tried to prank Francis Collins. He got a science lesson instead (Stat News)

State by state

Bredesen backs effort to reverse opioid law that ‘defanged’ DEA; Blackburn calls for prescription limit (Tennessean)

Kansas governor’s task force votes to seek expansion of Medicaid (Garden City Telegram)

Tags Donald Trump Maggie Hassan Sheldon Whitehouse
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