Overnight Health Care: Manchin hits opponent on pre-existing conditions | Dems press Trump on handling of ObamaCare | Comments on Kentucky Medicaid changes largely negative

Overnight Health Care: Manchin hits opponent on pre-existing conditions | Dems press Trump on handling of ObamaCare | Comments on Kentucky Medicaid changes largely negative
© Greg Nash

Welcome to Monday's Overnight Health Care, where we are slogging through a hot, last week of August. CLICK HERE to subscribe to our newsletter.

On to today's news...


Manchin uses new GOP ObamaCare bill to hit opponent.

Vulnerable Democratic Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinThe Memo: Kavanaugh firestorm consumes political world Kavanaugh becomes September surprise for midterm candidates Kavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday MORE (W.Va.) is finding a new way to attack his GOP opponent over pre-existing conditions.

Manchin faces a tough reelection race this year against West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R). Manchin is now pointing to a new Senate GOP bill that aims to preserve ObamaCare's pre-existing condition protections as a rebuke to Morrisey's position in court against those provisions.


On Friday, 10 GOP senators introduced a bill to preserve ObamaCare's protections against people with pre-existing conditions being denied coverage or charged more, as a backstop in case a GOP-led lawsuit against ObamaCare succeeds.

Morrisey is one of the 20 state attorneys general supporting the lawsuit against ObamaCare.

"Senate Republicans have finally admitted that this horrendous lawsuit is dangerous for the country and are scrambling to find a fix," Manchin said in a statement.

The bigger picture: A range of vulnerable Senate Democrats are highlighting pre-existing conditions and the GOP lawsuit in their campaigns. Manchin sees the new GOP bill as a way to renew those attacks on Morrisey.

Policy angle, does the GOP bill really offer protection? Larry Levitt, a health policy expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said that the bill would still allow insurers to exclude coverage of pre-existing conditions altogether, making the protections in the measure "something of a mirage."

Read more here.


And remember, arguments in the lawsuit are next week.

The political fight over the pre-existing conditions lawsuit will likely only intensify next week after the court hears arguments in the case on Sept. 5.

The 20 GOP-led states, with the backing of the Department of Justice, are facing off against a group of Democratic attorneys general defending the health law.

The case will be heard in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas.

Another layer: That's the same day the Senate will be holding a hearing on President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.


Democrats are pressing the administration on better managing the Affordable Care Act after a nonpartisan Government Accountability Office report.

The report released on Friday said the administration was likely responsible for a 5 percent enrollment drop from 2017 to 2018, and recommended it set enrollment targets so it can better evaluate its performance.

Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Sens. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayJudiciary Democrat calls for additional witnesses to testify on Kavanaugh Kavanaugh allegations set stage for Anita Hill sequel Time for action to improve government data analysis MORE (D-Wash,), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSome employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report Hillicon Valley: North Korean IT firm hit with sanctions | Zuckerberg says Facebook better prepared for midterms | Big win for privacy advocates in Europe | Bezos launches B fund to help children, homeless Hillicon Valley: Trump signs off on sanctions for election meddlers | Russian hacker pleads guilty over botnet | Reddit bans QAnon forum | FCC delays review of T-Mobile, Sprint merger | EU approves controversial copyright law MORE (D-Ore.), and Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyObama to hit campaign trail in Pa. for gubernatorial, Senate candidates Trump is wrong, Dems are fighting to save Medicare and Social Security Five biggest surprises in midterm fight MORE (D-Pa.) sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar requesting an explanation on how the agency is implementing the recommendations. (HHS already said it would not follow the recommendation on enrollment targets.)

"The nation's health department, which has the self-identified objective of 'improving Americans' access to health care,' should not be working against the interests of patients and families and their goals of obtaining quality, affordable health insurance," the Democrats wrote.

Read the letter here.


Coming this week:

The House is still out of session. The Senate comes back Monday.

The Senate health committee will hold a hearing focused on FDA oversight titled "Leveraging Cutting-Edge Science and Protecting Public Health," at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 430.


Public comments on Kentucky work requirement proposal are overwhelmingly negative.

The Trump administration initially approved the proposal, but backtracked after a federal judge blocked it from going into effect, ruling that the administration has not considered whether it would "help the state furnish medical assistance to its citizens, a central objective to Medicaid."

The administration re-opened the comment period to show it would take concerns seriously.

The comment period ended last week, and the tally is in: 8,472 commenters oppose Medicaid work requirements while only 374 wrote that they support it, according to an analysis by the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.

The average number of comments for a 1115 waiver is 231, according to the center.

"Generally speaking, people were scared of losing coverage, grateful for the care they had received through Medicaid up to this point, or worried about what it would mean for their patients," Dustin Pugel, the report's author, tweeted.

An HHS spokesperson told The Hill last week that it is conducting a "thorough review and analysis of each comment" and declined to provide a specific timeframe for completion.

Read the full report here.


What we're reading: 

Did Juul lure teenagers and get 'customers for life'? (The New York Times)

The doctors want in: Democratic docs talk health care on the campaign train (Kaiser Health News)

McCain hated ObamaCare. He also saved it. (Kaiser Health News)


State by state

Minnesota's next governor faces a state health care fiscal cliff (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

The Southern Poverty Law Center asks Alabama agency to withdraw Medicaid waiver (Al.com)


The Hill event 

Join us 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.


Op-eds in The Hill

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