Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Senators face Wednesday vote on Trump health plans rule | Trump officials plan downtime for ObamaCare website | Lawmakers push for action on reducing maternal deaths

Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Senators face Wednesday vote on Trump health plans rule | Trump officials plan downtime for ObamaCare website | Lawmakers push for action on reducing maternal deaths

Happy Tuesday, and welcome to Overnight Health Care. We will have a health-care vote in the Senate tomorrow, so let's dive right in. CLICK HERE to subscribe to our newsletter.

 

Coming up Wednesday: Dems to force a vote on overturning Trump short-term plans rule.

Democrats are going to force a vote on Wednesday on overturning President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republicans move to block Yemen war-powers votes for rest of Congress Trump says he's considering 10 to 12 contenders for chief of staff Michael Flynn asks judge to spare him from jail time MORE's expansion of non-ObamaCare plans known as short-term plans.

The politics: Democrats want to bring up the issue of pre-existing conditions and get Republicans on record ahead of the midterm elections, where the issue is front and center in the Democratic campaign. Short-term health insurance plans can deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

The votes: The measure appears headed for defeat after Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate advances Trump energy pick after Manchin flips The Senate must reject Bernard McNamee’s nomination for FERC Overnight Defense: Congress pauses to mourn George H.W. Bush | Haspel to brief senators on Khashoggi killing | Soldier is fourth to die from Afghan IED blast MORE (R-Alaska), a key swing vote said Tuesday she will oppose the measure. Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsLobbying World Senators want assurances from attorney general pick on fate of Mueller probe 5 themes to watch for in 2020 fight for House MORE (R-Maine) said she is undecided, but Democrats would need a second Republican beyond her anyway.

Even a failed vote, however, would allow Democrats to hammer Republicans on the issue of pre-existing conditions.

More on Democrats plans here.

 

 

The Trump administration is planning hours-long downtimes for maintenance on healthcare.gov during the coming ObamaCare sign-up period.

The administration drew criticism for a similar move last year from advocates who said the downtime would hinder efforts to sign people up for coverage, but the administration counters that maintenance downtime happens every year and is designed to occur during the slowest periods on the site.

The maintenance schedule is the same as last year, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Tuesday, meaning healthcare.gov is scheduled to be offline for maintenance from 12 a.m. to 12 p.m. each Sunday during the sign-up period, except for the final Sunday, for a total of 60 hours of downtime.

Officials said that is the maximum possible downtime, and said last year the actual downtime was significantly less than what was scheduled, at 21.5 hours out of a scheduled 60.

"Maintenance windows are regularly scheduled on healthcare.gov every year during Open Enrollment," a CMS spokesperson said.

Why it matters: ObamaCare supporters note that a shortened enrollment period means consumers already have less time to sign up for health care. Last year, the administration shortened open enrollment by a month and a half, compared to previous years. If healthcare.gov is down for maintenance, that gives consumers even less time to sign up, advocates say.

From Protect Our Care, a pro-ObamaCare group: "There can be no doubt that the Trump Administration literally wants to stand in between people and the health care coverage they need, since they are once again purposely shutting down the website people need to use to sign up for coverage at the very time when they need it most," said Brad Woodhouse, the group's executive director.

"This cynical move comes after the Trump Administration cut the open enrollment period in half, slashed advertising by ninety percent, exacted drastic cuts to the Navigator program all while asking them to be mouthpieces for junk insurance plans. It's shameful."

Read more here.


Bipartisan group of senators push administration to increase focus on maternal deaths.

A bipartisan group of Senators asked the Trump administration Tuesday to focus more on reducing deaths caused by pregnancy complications.

The 14 senators, led by Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: Trump adviser Kudlow seeks end to electric car, renewable energy credits | Shell to pay execs based on carbon reduction | Justices reject greens' border wall lawsuit Representing patients’ voices Overnight Health Care: Top Trump refugee official taking new HHS job | Tom Price joins new Georgia governor's transition | FDA tobacco crackdown draws ire from the right MORE (D-Del.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonCoal supporter Manchin named top Dem on Senate Energy Committee GOP opens door to new NC election amid fraud claims More than 6,000 mail-in ballots in Florida were not counted: officials MORE (D-Fla.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottJuan Williams: Nowhere to go for black Republicans Tim Scott: Stop giving court picks with 'questionable track records on race' a Senate vote Ocasio-Cortez, Tim Scott, Becerra among Bloomberg's 50 most noteworthy in 2018 MORE (R-S.C.) and Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoHouse passes bipartisan bill aimed at reversing rising maternal mortality rates Dole salute embodies emotion of Bush farewell Hispanic Caucus sets red lines on DHS spending bill MORE (R-W.Va.), wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar asking that the agency "focus on strategies to reduce maternal mortality rates in the United States."

From 2000 to 2014, they said, the maternal mortality rate increased by 26 percent.

"This troubling trend makes the United States and outlier among every other developed country," the senators wrote.

Context: Advocates of reducing maternal mortality rates have been critical of Congress's response.

A bill that would fund state efforts to study and reduce maternal deaths has passed the Senate health committee but has gone nowhere in the House.

Maternal mortality rates in the U.S. are notoriously high. More American women die of pregnancy-related complications than any other developed country.

Read more here.

 

Democrats see health care as a winning issue ahead of the midterms.

One of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats, Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyDem senators Heitkamp, Donnelly urge bipartisanship in farewell speeches Schumer gets ready to go on the offensive Schumer walking tightrope with committee assignments MORE of Indiana, repeatedly hit on health care in the debate against his Republican challenger Tuesday.

Donnelly said multiple times that he was the "final" or "deciding" vote to save health care and protections for pre-existing conditions -- likely referring to his vote last year against the GOP's ObamaCare repeal bill.

He also dared his opponent, former Indiana State Rep. Mike Braun, to denounce a lawsuit filed by 20 Republican attorneys general, and largely backed by the Trump administration, that seeks to invalidate the law.

"Stand here tonight and tell us you'll denounce that lawsuit -- that you'll denounce that effort on pre-existing conditions," Donnelly challenged Braun.

Why it matters: Democrats think the Trump administration handed them a political gift when they declined, in large part, to defend ObamaCare in that lawsuit. Specifically, the Department of Justice argued that ObamaCare's provisions banning insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, or charging them more, should fall.

Context: ObamaCare's protections for people with pre-existing conditions have become more popular over the years, with more than 70 percent of the public supporting, according to a June poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation.  

 

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Lobbying moves

Calvin W. Schmidt was named senior vice president and worldwide leader for Government Affairs & Policy at Johnson & Johnson. Schmidt took over the role on Monday. Don Bohn, current vice president of Global Government Affairs, will be retiring at year's end.

 

What we're reading:

Spurred by convenience, millennials often spurn the "family doctor" model (Kaiser Health News)

Health care crowds out jobs, taxes in midterm ads (The Wall Street Journal)

Health care companies soak up $23 billion in venture capital funding (modernhealthcare.com)

 

State by state:

California GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox: Limit government in health care (California Healthline)

A look at Illinois's 6th congressional district: How candidates want health care to change (Daily Herald)