Overnight Health Care: Opioids package nears finish line | Measure to help drug companies draws ire | Maryland ObamaCare rates to drop
Overnight Health Care: Obama calls 'Medicare for all' a 'good' idea | Study finds modest ObamaCare premiums hikes for next year | Trump officials consider South Carolina plan to defund Planned Parenthood
Happy Friday, and welcome to Overnight Health Care. Paging all potential 2020 Democratic presidential contenders: former President Barack Obama called "Medicare for all" a "good idea."
Obama backs Medicare for all... okay, kind of
"Democrats aren't just running on good, old ideas like a higher minimum wage. They're running on good, new ideas like Medicare for all," Obama said during a speech Friday, a launch of his midterm campaign efforts for Democrats.
Why it matters: Obviously, Obama, whose domestic policy achievement is ObamaCare, did not support Medicare for all during his presidency (though he did support it as a senator.)
But his comments Friday could be seen as a recognition that Medicare for all is likely the future of the Democratic Party. Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) Medicare for all bill in the Senate has 16 co-sponsors -- many of whom are expected to run for president in 2020.
In his speech, Obama jumped into the midterm fight, condemning President Trump and urging voters to hit the polls this November. For more from the speech, here are seven times Obama hit Trump. Trump's reaction? The president said he "fell asleep."
ObamaCare premiums to rise by only 3.6 percent next year: study
An analysis from Avalere and the Associated Press looked at 47 states where data was available and found that premium increases will be much smaller for 2019 compared to the average 30 percent increase 2018.
- In 41 states, premiums will either drop or rise by less than 10 percent in 2019.
- In 11 states, premiums will decrease.
- In six states, plus the District of Columbia, premiums will rise between 10 and 18 percent.
- 19 states will see either new insurers entering the market or current insurers expanding into new areas.
The takeaway: ObamaCare is stabilizing, despite the multiple policy changes it's seen during nearly two years under President Trump. Insurers also overpriced their premiums for this year, leading to smaller increases this year.
A bipartisan bill that would ban 'gag clauses' in contracts with pharmacies passed out of the House health subcommittee Friday.
What it does: The bill, authored by Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.), a pharmacist, would ban pharmacy benefit managers from inserting language into contracts with pharmacies that prevent them from telling a customer when they can save money on drugs by paying with cash instead of insurance. (Sometimes a copay can be more than a pharmacy's cash price for a drug.)
"Often, gag clauses are part of a take it or leave it contract where pharmacies have no other option if they want to continue providing services for patients in their communities," Carter said during the markup.
Carter said that, when he was a practicing pharmacist, he had to bite his tongue when he saw a patient paying for a drug with insurance when they could have saved money by paying cash.
Next steps: It will have to pass out of the full committee before heading to the floor for a vote. The Senate passed a similar version from Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) this week.
The Senate will vote next week on an opioid package.
What it does: The package of over 70 proposals from five Senate committees focuses on encouraging substance use recovery, supporting caregivers and families, reducing the use and supply of illegal opioids, and driving innovation and long-term solutions.
Context: It's been a long path to this point. While it's a bipartisan bill, there have been squabbles behind the scenes on what should and shouldn't be included. If you missed it, don't worry, there will be more.
What's next: When the package passes the Senate, it must be conferenced with the House bill, which passed in June. While there are similarities between the two, there are also differences that must be worked out. The opioid epidemic is a very personal, serious issue for a lot of lawmakers, especially those in more rural states. It might be difficult for them to reach a consensus on how best to approach this crisis.
Timeline: Many onlookers think it might not happen until after the midterms.
Trump administration to consider South Carolina proposal to defund Planned Parenthood.
Add South Carolina to the list of states asking the Trump administration for permission to cut Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from their Medicaid programs.
Why it matters: The Obama administration not only rejected these proposals, they warned states that if they tried to exclude Planned Parenthood from Medicaid, they could lose federal funding. But the Trump administration rescinded this guidance earlier this year, signaling it might be on board with such proposals.
Coming up next week:
The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing Thursday at 1:15 pm on "examining barriers to expanding innovative, value-based care in Medicare."
The House will vote next week on a bill to retroactively lift the employer mandate penalties from 2015-2018, change the definition of a full time employee for purposes of the mandate from 30 hours to 40 hours, and delay the Cadillac tax until 2023.
The Hill event:
Join us Wednesday, September 12 for "A Healthy Start: Infant and Early Childhood Nutrition," featuring Reps. Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.) and Bobby Scott (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:
Insulin's high cost leads to deadly rationing (Side Effects Public Media)
Richard Sackler, member of clan behind OxyContin, has patent for opioid treatment (STAT)
Vaccines against HIV, Malaria and Tuberculosis unlikely, study says (The New York Times)
State by state:
The future of abortion under a new Supreme Court? Look to Arkansas (The New York Times)
New Jersey ObamaCare premiums will go down next year (nj.com)
Connecticut gets $12.2 million for health information exchange (journalinquirer.com)