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Overnight Health Care: Opioids package nears finish line | Measure to help drug companies draws ire | Maryland ObamaCare rates to drop
Happy Friday, and welcome to Overnight Health Care. Lawmakers have hit some snags as they try to put together the final package addressing the opioids crisis. Still, the final deal could be released next week.
The big snag is a last-minute -- and unrelated -- change the pharmaceutical industry is seeking.
The change would roll back a provision in Congress's February budget deal that shifted more Medicare Part D costs onto drug companies.
The push is drawing ire from drug pricing advocates and Democrats. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, said Friday he won't vote for any opioids package that includes a "bailout for Big Pharma."
"It would be unconscionable for Republicans to airdrop a bailout for Big Pharma into a piece of legislation that spends less than half of that amount to curtail the opioid epidemic," Wyden said in a statement.
"I will oppose any measure that includes this provision without corresponding policies that bring substantial relief to Americans struggling with high drug prices."
But lawmakers are also still trying to hash out their differences on the measures actually related to opioids.
A bipartisan group of senators want to see the package fully repeal decades-old restrictions on Medicaid funding for addiction treatment in large facilities. The House version of the opioids bill partially repealed this restriction, while the Senate bill didn't include any repeal.
Some lawmakers are also pushing for the package to change a federal law that requires information on substance use to be segmented from a patient's medical record.
Advocates for this change say this missing information creates "missed opportunities" for well-coordinated prevention and treatment services among medical providers.
A spokeswoman for Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), who sponsored the proposal, said negotiations are ongoing about including it in the package, but "we plan to continue our efforts to have the language included until the final package is finalized."
However, some Democrats, and the American Medical Association, have raised privacy concerns.
Also coming up next week:
The Senate comes back Monday. The House comes back Tuesday.
The Senate health subcommittee on primary health and retirement security will hold a hearing Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. on health care in rural America.
The full Senate health committee will hold a hearing Thursday at 10 a.m. on reducing health care costs through innovation.
The House Energy & Commerce subcommittee on health will hold a hearing Thursday at 10 a.m. on using data to reduce maternal mortality in the U.S.
The Hill event:
Join us Thursday, Sept. 27, for "Evolution of Telehealth: Patient Awareness and Education," featuring Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.), Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.). Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack will sit down with our speakers to discuss the growth of telemedicine, and how policymakers in Washington are responding to the shifting delivery of medical care. RSVP Here.
Protect Our Care kicks off a 48-stop nationwide bus tour Sunday, focusing on "highlighting the Republican war on health care" ahead of the midterms.
The tour will make stops in Connecticut, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Michigan, and a host of other states.
Premiums for Maryland's ObamaCare plans will drop an average of 13 percent next year.
The decrease comes after the federal government approved Maryland's plan to shore up its ObamaCare markets by establishing a "reinsurance" program.
The program was the result of a bipartisan effort from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and the Democratic-controlled General Assembly. Without it, premiums were set to skyrocket, putting the state's insurance market in danger of collapsing.
Prior to the reinsurance program, insurers had requested an average rate increase of 30.2 percent, with increase requests ranging from 91.4 percent to 18.5 percent across carriers.
Why it matters: The Trump administration has approved similar reinsurance programs in six other states, but Maryland's will be the largest and is valued at $462 million. Reinsurance continues to be a popular, bipartisan solution to premium increases.
What we're reading:
AMA urges Congress not to loosen privacy restrictions for patients with addiction (STAT)
At least 68 people are nearly blind after a botched drug was injected into their eyeballs (Buzzfeed News)
Vulnerable House Republicans no longer bash ObamaCare on their websites (Daily Beast)
State by state:
Hollywood's vaccine wars: LA's 'entitled' westsiders behind city's epidemic (The Hollywood Reporter)
What states aren't doing to save mothers' lives (USA Today)