Overnight Health Care: Opioid bill, action on drug prices top fall agenda | ObamaCare defenders prep for court case | Koch group ad hits McCaskill on health care

Overnight Health Care: Opioid bill, action on drug prices top fall agenda | ObamaCare defenders prep for court case | Koch group ad hits McCaskill on health care
© Greg Nash

Welcome to Thursday's Overnight Health Care. We're taking a broad view to start things off as we near fall (though the weather today is definitely still summer!)

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Washington's fall agenda: Issues to watch in health care

With Labor Day and the return of the House approaching, we took a look ahead at the health-care stories to watch this fall.

Some of the highlights on what to look out for:



Legislation addressing the opioid crisis could move as soon as next week. Senators have been working behind the scenes to combine a range of bills into a package that can get bipartisan agreement.


One holdup so far has simply been the fact that so many senators want to get their provisions included, according to Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynSenate plots to avoid fall shutdown brawl Inviting Kim Jong Un to Washington Trump endorses Cornyn for reelection as O'Rourke mulls challenge MORE (R-Texas).

"It's a big bill involving three standing committees and just everybody wants to make sure that they get their piece in it," Cornyn said, adding that it "takes a lot of diplomacy."


Drug prices

Administration officials have been trying to overcome skepticism that their plan will actually significantly lower consumers' prices.

Rather than one big reveal, officials have been rolling out a series of smaller actions, with more promised to come.

One area being closely watched is a cryptic notice of regulation on the rebates that drug companies pay to the negotiators known as pharmacy benefit managers. The administration has criticized them as being secretive and driving up prices.   


Medicaid work requirements

The administration plans to move forward with Medicaid work requirements this fall even after a federal judge blocked a proposal in Kentucky from taking effect.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar has signaled that he will not back down from the work requirements, which have come to be a defining priority for the administration.

HHS reopened the comment period on a waiver to allow Kentucky to implement its Medicaid work rules in an effort to show a district court that had blocked the proposal that HHS was taking its concerns seriously.

Now the administration has to review the comments and decide how to move forward, though it has not set a timeline.

Check out our preview of the fall agenda here.


ObamaCare defenders prep for court arguments next week

The debate over ObamaCare and pre-existing conditions will pick up next week with court arguments in the lawsuit against the law on Wednesday.

The Democratic attorneys general defending the law previewed their arguments in a conference call with reporters on Thursday.


What it boils down to -- for ObamaCare opponents: The 20 GOP-led states challenging the law argue that now that Congress zeroed out ObamaCare's mandate penalty, the mandate no longer can be upheld as a tax, since it is not collecting any money, and therefore it has no constitutional justification. They then argue that because the mandate is unconstitutional, the rest of ObamaCare should be struck down too.


What it boils down to -- for ObamaCare supporters: The backers of the law said Thursday that a tax does not have to raise revenue to qualify as a tax, and that Congress could always raise the penalty amount in the future. But more broadly, they say that if the court did decide to find the mandate unconstitutional, it would not make sense to strike down the rest of ObamaCare too. Just strike down the unconstitutional part, the mandate itself, they say.


Remember: This is not just any legal argument. The case is playing a major role in the midterm elections, with Democrats attacking Republicans for supporting the lawsuit and threatening protections for people with pre-existing conditions.


Speaking of the midterms, Koch group ads hit McCaskill for supporting ObamaCare

While Democrats for once are going on the offense on health care this election cycle, that doesn't mean Republicans aren't doing some ObamaCare messaging of their own.

Case in point, the Koch-linked group Americans for Prosperity is launching $2.1 million in ads targeting Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillPoll: 33% of Kentucky voters approve of McConnell McCaskill: Lindsey Graham 'has lost his mind' Trey Gowdy joins Fox News as a contributor MORE (D-Mo.) for supporting ObamaCare.

"McCaskill voted for ObamaCare, which raised our prices," the ad states, calling her a "career politician."


Punching back: McCaskill has put a focus on health care herself as well, hitting her opponent, Josh Hawley, for being one of the attorneys general supporting the lawsuit against ObamaCare.

McCaskill also has an ad highlighting her investigations of pharmaceutical companies and work to lower drug prices. "They have raised prices in ways that make it impossible for families to take the drugs they need," she says in the ad.

Watch the Americans for Prosperity ad here.

Watch McCaskill's ad here.


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 ScottTop Dems blast administration's proposed ObamaCare changes Virginia congressional delegation says it's 'devastated by’ Richmond Turmoil The Hill's 12:30 Report: AOC unveils Green New Deal measure | Trump hits Virginia Dems | Dems begin hearings to get Trump tax returns 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

These lawsuits could change health care nationwide if they made it to the Supreme Court (Los Angeles Times)

Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayJohnson & Johnson subpoenaed by DOJ and SEC, company says Top Dems blast administration's proposed ObamaCare changes Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Dems blast rulemaking on family planning program | Facebook may remove anti-vaccine content | Medicare proposes coverage for new cancer treatment MORE slams Trump administration move to shorten family planning grants as a 'gimmick' (Washington Examiner)


State by state

Facing shortfall, Kentucky mulls ending Medicaid Expansion (Associated Press)

Opponents of Medicaid expansion filing appeal in bid to keep measure off Nebraska ballot (Omaha World-Herald)


The Hill op-eds

Regenerative health is a door we can open together

Overturning Roe threatens so much more than the right to an abortion