Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Some ObamaCare premiums to decrease next year | Sanders hits back at Trump over 'Medicare for all' | Panel to investigate rising maternal mortality rates

Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Some ObamaCare premiums to decrease next year | Sanders hits back at Trump over 'Medicare for all' | Panel to investigate rising maternal mortality rates
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Welcome to Thursday's edition of Overnight Health Care.

Bernie SandersBernie Sanders'Medicare for All': The hype v. Maryland's reality Biden says he supports paying campaign staff minimum wage Biden's lead narrows in early voting states: poll MORE wrote his own response to President TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE's criticism of "Medicare for all" and a House committee will investigate rising maternal mortality rates. We'll start with the Trump administration taking credit for a slight decrease in ObamaCare premiums.


Some ObamaCare premiums will decrease next year

Average premiums for the most common "silver" level insurance plan sold under ObamaCare will fall 1.5 percent in 2019, according to the Trump administration, the first time rates have fallen since the law took effect.

In contrast, average premiums for the same mid-level plans increased by 37 percent between 2017 and 2018 and by 25 percent between 2016 and 2017.

The premium decreases are a sign that the insurance marketplace is stabilizing after two years of massive premium spikes, and the Trump administration is taking credit for it.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Administrator Seema Verma gleefully told reporters on Thursday that all the actions the agency has taken so far -- like repealing the individual mandate, cutting payments to ObamaCare outreach groups and expanding short-term insurance plans -- have helped.

"The rhetoric on the exchanges has not matched the facts," Verma said, and despite predictions that the insurance market would destabilize, the opposite has happened.

"We were told if the individual mandate were repealed, premiums would skyrocket. We were told if we shifted focus away from navigators, no one would sign up," Verma said.

The reality: Yes, some premiums are decreasing next year, but experts note that across all plans, average premiums will slightly increase. Also, the main reason premiums are either stable or decreasing this year is because they were so high in 2018. Insurers overpriced their plans for the year, driven by the uncertainty over how the Trump administration would handle ObamaCare. If it weren't for those actions Verma was praising, premiums would likely be even lower.

Read more on the announcement here.



Trump wrote his USA Today op-ed attacking Medicare for All. Now Bernie Sanders has his own op-ed to hit back.

USA Today op-eds are all the rage these days it seems.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote his own op-ed in USA Today on Thursday to hit back at President Trump for his piece in the newspaper attacking a "Medicare for all" health-care system.

"Given the president's propensity to lie about almost everything, it is not surprising that Trump is grossly distorting what the Medicare for All legislation does," Sanders wrote in defense of his signature policy.

What Trump wrote: "In practice, the Democratic Party's so-called Medicare for All would really be Medicare for None," Trump wrote. "Under the Democrats' plan, today's Medicare would be forced to die."

Sanders response: "Our proposal would not cut benefits for seniors on Medicare, as the president and his Republican allies claim," Sanders writes. "In fact, we expand benefits."

He points out that under his proposal, seniors would have coverage for dental and vision care that they do not currently have on Medicare.


USA Today took some heat from health experts and Democrats for running the column, which independent fact checkers said was full of misleading statements, falsehoods, or outright lies. The paper defended itself, and said the column was as rigorously fact checked as any other op-ed it publishes. But on Thursday, the paper ran another fact check of Trump's op-ed from its partner, the independent group Factcheck.org.

This in turn raised new questions about the newspaper's own fact-checking standards.

The finding? Trump's column "showed several instances where he misrepresented the facts and made misleading statements about Medicare and health insurance in general."

The group also pointed out Trump's misleading claim that he favors protecting patients with pre-existing conditions, since his administration openly supports a lawsuit intended to eliminate those very protections. "It's disingenuous for the president to claim he kept a promise to 'protect coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions,' given the administration's stance in the lawsuit," the fact checkers wrote.

Read the full fact check article here.


The House Ways & Means Committee will investigate rising maternal mortality rates in the U.S.

"With this investigation, we are committed to finding out why these deaths are happening and where Congress can take action to not only prevent these deaths, but also reverse this trend," Republicans on the committee led by Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyBlue states sue Treasury, IRS over rules blocking Trump tax law workarounds Manufacturers group lobbies Congress for new North America trade deal Lawmakers join Nats Park fundraiser for DC kids charity MORE (R-Texas), said in a statement.

Context: While rates of maternal mortality have declined in other industrialized countries, they have dramatically increased in the U.S. since 2000.

About 700 to 900 women die in the U.S. every year from mostly preventable complications related to pregnancy, such as blood loss and high blood pressure.

Read more here.


An outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus is on the rise in a regional trading hub in Congo as terrified residents, including those who have been infected, avoid health care workers.

Public health officials have watched with mounting concern in the last week as the number of cases of Ebola in the heavily populated North Kivu and Ituri Provinces have grown, more than two months after the outbreak was identified.

The Congolese Health Ministry said Wednesday that 194 cases of hemorrhagic fever have been reported in the two provinces in eastern Congo, along the border with Uganda.

That's an increase of 32 cases in just a single week, a startling number for a virus that usually dies down soon after public health officials begin treating the outbreak.

Read more here.



Without drug rebates, Medicare Part D premiums will rise by 52%. Seniors should pay less for their health care, not more. Learn more at affordableprescriptiondrugs.org.


What we're reading

Trump's health secretary promises "more to come" on drug prices (Axios)

Fact check: Who's right about protections for pre-existing conditions? (Kaiser Health News)

Democrats and Republicans get personal about health care on campaign trail (CNN)


State by state

Hurricane Michael forces Florida hospitals to shut down (The Wall Street Journal)

Privatized Medicaid and taxes bring testy exchanges between candidates for Iowa governor (WHO-TV)


From The Hill's opinion page

Clusters of polio-like illness in the US not a cause for panic

Better health outcomes at lower costs is a win that everyone can get behind