Overnight Health Care: House GOP blocks Trump-backed drug pricing provision | Maryland sues to protect ObamaCare | Insurers offer help to hurricane-impacted areas

Overnight Health Care: House GOP blocks Trump-backed drug pricing provision | Maryland sues to protect ObamaCare | Insurers offer help to hurricane-impacted areas
© Greg Nash

Welcome to Thursday's edition of Overnight Health Care. Lawmakers have a deal to extend government funding to December and avert a shutdown. CLICK HERE to subscribe to our newsletter.


House and Senate negotiators finished work on the Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bills, which represent a lion's share of annual appropriations. The HHS share includes $90.5 billion in HHS appropriations, a $2.3 billion boost from last year. A continuing resolution would cover agencies not included in the "minibus" spending bills.

The health spending bill includes $3.8 billion specifically set for battling the opioid epidemic, as well as provisions addressing the care of immigrant children in federal custody.

What's notable is a provision that did not make it in.


House GOP blocks Trump-supported drug pricing provision from spending bill

Congress has long struggled to do anything to tackle drug prices, and there was more of that on Thursday, when a bipartisan amendment that was also supported by President TrumpDonald John TrumpAverage tax refunds down double-digits, IRS data shows White House warns Maduro as Venezuela orders partial closure of border with Colombia Trump administration directs 1,000 more troops to Mexican border MORE was left out of the health-funding bill.

The provision, which passed the Senate on a bipartisan basis last month, would require drug prices to be disclosed in television advertisements for drugs in an effort to increase transparency and bring down prices.

Lawmakers and aides said that House Republicans objected to including the provision in the final version of the funding bill, which was finished by House and Senate negotiators on Thursday.

Who's to blame? "Big Pharma," supporters say: Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinKids confront Feinstein over Green New Deal Senate plots to avoid fall shutdown brawl Overnight Energy: Trump ends talks with California on car emissions | Dems face tough vote on Green New Deal | Climate PAC backing Inslee in possible 2020 run MORE (D-Ill.), one of the sponsors of the provision, blamed pharmaceutical companies for exercising their influence to block the measure.

"When are we going to stand up to Big Pharma?" Durbin asked.

Not a lot of clarity from Republicans on the reason: Asked about the objections, Rep. Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeDon’t look for House GOP to defy Trump on border wall GOP dismisses polls showing losing battle on shutdown Bottom Line MORE (R-Okla.), the top health appropriator in the House, said he did not want to get into the details, but said that some House Republicans opposed the provision.

"Our friends in the House felt differently on this topic," said Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSenate plots to avoid fall shutdown brawl ‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration MORE (R-Mo.), the top Senate health appropriator.

Read more here.


Maryland files suit to try and protect ObamaCare

Maryland is seeking something of an insurance policy against Texas and other GOP-led states' efforts to overturn ObamaCare in court.

The state's attorney general filed a separate lawsuit in Maryland seeking an order to keep the Affordable Care Act going.

This could create some confusion: Here's University of Michigan law professor Nick Bagley explaining the dueling orders this could create:

"Depending on how quickly the Maryland case moves, it's possible we could see dueling injunctions--one ordering the Trump administration to stop enforcing the law, the other ordering it to keep enforcing," he writes.

"That's an unholy mess just waiting to happen. Now, it may not come to that. My best guess is that the Texas lawsuit will fizzle: any injunction will likely be stayed pending appeal, either by the Fifth Circuit or the Supreme Court, and the case is going nowhere on the merits. The Maryland lawsuit will likely prove unnecessary."

Read his analysis here.  


Kavanaugh explains 'abortion-inducing drugs' remark amid backlash

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has a response for a line of attack that took off among Democrats after his hearing.

Kavanaugh told senators that he was summarizing the plaintiffs' views in an ObamaCare case when he referred to birth control as "abortion-inducing drugs."

Kavanaugh's use of the phrase during his confirmation hearing sparked days of backlash from Democrats and progressive groups, who argued the Supreme Court pick was trying to signal his own views.

But Kavanaugh, in written responses provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee, told senators that the phrase, "abortion-inducing drugs," summarized the plaintiffs' position, stating "I was accurately describing the plaintiffs' position."

"At the hearing, I was not expressing an opinion on whether particular drugs induce abortion; I used that phrase only when recount the plaintiffs' own assertions," Kavanaugh wrote in a response to Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe Hill's Morning Report - What to watch for as Mueller’s probe winds down Overnight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Drug pricing fight centers on insulin | Florida governor working with Trump to import cheaper drugs | Dems blast proposed ObamaCare changes Drug pricing fight centers on insulin MORE (R-Iowa) about his use of the phrase.

Read more here.


Insurers offering help to hurricane-impacted areas

As the southeast coast prepares for Hurricane Florence, insurers in the region are offering additional help to people who live in affected states.

Aetna will allow for the immediate refill of prescriptions for anyone living in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Georgia and Washington, D.C.

Blue Shield is allowing refills for anyone in mandatory evacuation zones. Both companies are also providing hotlines for people to call in need of counseling services, or assistance with finding available shelters, accessing government resources and seeking medical referrals.


What we're reading

Much touted for cancer, 'precision medicine' often misses the target (Kaiser Health News)

Insurer to Purdue Pharma: We won't pay for OxyContin anymore (Nashville Public Radio)


State by state

State's uninsured rate up by a fraction, report says (Georgia Health News)

Josh Hawley under fire in Missouri on pre-existing conditions as pressure from Dems mounts (Kansas City Star)