Overnight Health Care: Bill banning 'gag clauses' on drugs heads to Trump's desk | Romney opposes Utah Medicaid expansion | GOP candidate under fire over ad on pre-existing conditions

Overnight Health Care: Bill banning 'gag clauses' on drugs heads to Trump's desk | Romney opposes Utah Medicaid expansion | GOP candidate under fire over ad on pre-existing conditions
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Welcome to Tuesday's Overnight Health Care.

The House is preparing to wrap up votes this week, including legislation to fund the government through early December, and then recess until after the election. Meanwhile, the Senate could stay through the weekend to run out the procedural clock on Brett Kavanaugh.

In the health world, the House today took some small steps forward on President TrumpDonald John TrumpHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Countdown clock is on for Mueller conclusions Omar: White supremacist attacks are rising because Trump publicly says 'Islam hates us' MORE's drug pricing blueprint.

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The chamber also approved a bill on emergency pandemic preparedness. The bill provides for the Health and Human Services assistant secretary for preparedness and response (ASPR) to stockpile medicines, respond to disasters or biologic threats and support new drugs to fight pandemic threats like influenza.

Lawmakers in both parties and chambers are also closing in on a final deal on an opioids bill, which could be released as soon as tonight.

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The House passed two bills banning 'gag clauses' in pharmacy contracts, and now it heads to President Trump's desk.

The bills ban prescription drug middlemen from preventing pharmacies from telling customers they can save money on a drug if they pay with cash instead of insurance.

Pharmacy benefit managers sometimes include these clauses in contracts with pharmacies. The two bills passed on Tuesday ban the use of these clauses in private and public health plans.

"We offer patients more transparency into the costs of their vital medications and pave the way for pharmacists to freely and responsibly advise their customers on alternative payment methods," Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenThe 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration House GOP lawmaker says Green New Deal is like genocide Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — FDA issues proposal to limit sales of flavored e-cigs | Trump health chief gets grilling | Divisions emerge over House drug pricing bills | Dems launch investigation into short-term health plans MORE (R-Ore.) and health subcommittee Chairman Michael BurgessMichael Clifton BurgessDivisions emerge over House drug price bills Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Dems push Pelosi on bill allowing federal funding of abortion | Key Republican says Dems left him out of drug pricing talks | Court upholds Ohio law to defund Planned Parenthood | Trump taps acting FDA chief Key Republican says Dems left him out of process on drug pricing bills MORE (R-Texas) said in a statement.

The bills now head to Trump's desk, and he's likely to sign them. Similar proposals were included in his blueprint to lower drug prices. 

 

Groups urge lawmakers not to include change urged by drug companies

The Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing is making one last effort in a letter to pressure Congress not to include a top priority of pharmaceutical companies in the opioid bill currently being finalized. 

Drug companies are pushing to undo a change from February's budget deal that shifted more costs onto them in Medicare's coverage gap, known as the "donut hole."

The move has drawn fierce resistance from drug pricing groups. "We urge you to stand with Medicare beneficiaries and taxpayers to resist any attempts from the pharmaceutical industry to undo these critical reforms," the letter, which is also signed by groups like AARP and America's Health Insurance Plans, states. 

 

GOP Senate candidate says he supports pre-existing conditions while backing lawsuit to end them.

Missouri GOP Senate candidate Josh Hawley is taking some heat for saying he supports pre-existing condition protections. Why? He's part of a lawsuit against ObamaCare that would end those protections.

Hawley, Missouri's attorney general, who is running against vulnerable incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillLobbying world Dem candidate has Hawley served subpoena at CPAC Annual scorecard ranks GOP environmental efforts far below Dems in 2018 MORE (D), said in the ad released Monday that his oldest son has a rare chronic disease -- a pre-existing condition, he notes.

"I support forcing insurance companies to cover all pre-existing conditions, and Claire McCaskill knows it," Hawley says in the ad.

"You deserve a senator who's driven to fix this mess. Not one just trying to hang on to her office." 

But the catch: Hawley is part of a coalition of 20 Republican attorneys general suing to overturn ObamaCare.

"He sues to wipe out the protection then 'goes to camera' to say he doesn't mean it," McCaskill tweeted.

"He knows there are zero protections for pre-existing conditions if his lawsuit is successful."

Hawley response: "Here's what nerve is. Holding patients w/ preexisting conditions hostage to Obamacare because you care more about liberal politics than patients' health," Hawley tweeted.

"Cross the aisle, Senator. Do what you said you would do. WORK for the people of Missouri."

Note: Hawley hasn't laid out any policy alternatives to ObamaCare that would force insurers to cover preexisting conditions.

Read more here.

 

Romney opposes Utah's Medicaid expansion ballot measure.

Medicaid expansion is on the ballot in Utah this November, but Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyRomney helps GOP look for new path on climate change Former Bush adviser: Senate should reject Stephen Moore Trump's attacks on McCain exacerbate tensions with Senate GOP MORE, running for Senate there, isn't having it.

Romney said he supports the state's efforts to partially expand Medicaid, but does not think a full expansion will be viable.

In an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, Romney praised the state's partial approach, which would use federal money to expand coverage to people earning up to 100 percent of the poverty level. It would also institute a work requirement.

"Medicaid expansion is a very complex issue," Romney told the newspaper. "It requires extensive research and analysis and I think is generally done best by elected representatives of the people."

Romney said he thinks the state's plan is better than the ballot measure.

"What the state has arrived at is a better way," Romney said.

Is it 2012 again? Democratic group Protect Our Care sent out an email about the news with the subject line: "Yes, Mitt (47%) Romney, The People Understand The Benefits of Medicaid Expansion Just Fine"

Flashback part 2: Liberal groups have also been quick to point out that RomneyCare, which was passed while he was governor of Massachusetts, was the inspiration for ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion. The expansion has been largely funded by federal dollars since it first started almost a dozen years ago.  

Read more here.

 

GOP ad uses shark to hit Dem on 'government takeover' of health care.

House Republicans' campaign arm is launching a new ad using an image of a shark to attack a Democratic candidate over government-run health care.

The ad targets Democrat Elaine Luria, who is running against Rep. Scott TaylorScott William TaylorThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Ex-GOP Rep. Ryan Costello joins group pushing carbon tax Virginia New Members 2019 MORE (R) in a tight House race in eastern Virginia, and warns of "danger lurking in the race for Congress."

Over an image of a shark fin poking out of the water, the ad states: "Stealth candidate Elaine Luria has quietly promised something radical and dangerous. Luria backs a gateway to a government takeover of health care."

The catch: Luria does not support Medicare for all. But she does support a public option where people as young as 50 could get Medicare coverage.

The Republican ad deals with Luria's lack of support for Medicare for all by saying she supports a "gateway" to a government takeover of health care.

Read more here.

 

Trump administration terminates contract with fetal tissue firm after opposition from anti-abortion groups.

The Trump administration has ended a contract with a fetal tissue firm after receiving blowback from anti-abortion groups and Republican lawmakers.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) canceled the $16,000 contract with Advanced Bioscience Resources because it was not "sufficiently assured" that the contract included appropriate protections and followed requirements for fetal tissue research, the agency said in a statement Monday evening.

HHS is also conducting an audit of all acquisitions involving human fetal tissue to "ensure conformity with procurement and human fetal tissue research laws and regulations," the statement says.

But anti-abortion groups are still dissatisfied. "Secretary Azar must put an immediate moratorium on funding for research using aborted baby organs and tissue purchased from the abortion industry," said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. "Further, Secretary Azar should instead devote tax dollars to ethical alternatives that – unlike experimentation on fetal tissue – produce successful therapies for patients. Canceling a single contract and conducting a review is a small step forward, but overall is completely inadequate."

Read more here.

 

The Hill Event

Join us Thursday, Sept. 27, for "Evolution of Telehealth: Patient Awareness and Education," featuring Rep. Buddy CarterEarl (Buddy) Leroy CarterDon't enact a law that diminishes the incentive for generic companies to challenge patents Key Republican says Dems left him out of process on drug pricing bills Overnight Energy: Senate Dems introduce Green New Deal alternative | Six Republicans named to House climate panel | Wheeler confirmed to lead EPA MORE (R-Ga.), Sen. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidySenators ask CBO to review options for preventing surprise medical bills Five things to watch for in Trump's 2020 budget Overnight Health Care - Presented by Kidney Care Partners - FDA chief Scott Gottlieb resigns | House Dems to take up drug pricing bills next week | Planned Parenthood, doctors group sue over Trump abortion rule MORE, M.D. (R-La.) and Rep. Doris MatsuiDoris Okada MatsuiDem chair offers bill to crack down on robocalls Pelosi allies push back on proposed Speaker nominee rule change Congress must protect eye care patients from frightful prescriptions MORE (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.

 

What we're reading

Insulin prices could be much lower and drug makers would make healthy profits (STAT)

5 things to know about Trump's new 'public charge' immigration proposal (Kaiser Health News
Analyzing new bipartisan federal legislation limiting surprise medical bills (Health Affairs)

Taken for a ride: Doctor injured in ATV crash gets $56,603 bill for air ambulance trip (NPR)

 

State by state

A GOP Senate candidate highlights his drug industry career. Should he? (New York Times)

Rural Trump voters hurt most when states don't expand Medicaid (The Washington Post)