Overnight Health Care — Presented by The Partnership for Safe Medicines — GOP lawmaker pushes back on Trump drug pricing plan | Pfizer to raise prices on 41 drugs next year | Grassley opts for Finance gavel

Overnight Health Care — Presented by The Partnership for Safe Medicines — GOP lawmaker pushes back on Trump drug pricing plan | Pfizer to raise prices on 41 drugs next year | Grassley opts for Finance gavel
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Welcome to Friday's Overnight Health Care. We expect more activity on drug pricing next year with Democrats taking the House, but there was plenty of action today as well. Let's start with a GOP lawmaker publicly criticizing President TrumpDonald John TrumpFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign MORE on that front.


GOP lawmaker pushes back on Trump drug pricing proposal

President Trump went farther than Republicans usually do last month when he proposed tying some Medicare drug prices to lower prices in other countries. But there were not many objections from congressional Republicans, who are often hesitant to publicly criticize Trump.

But now, at least one Republican, Rep. Larry BucshonLarry Dean BucshonGOP balks at Trump drug pricing plan Overnight Health Care: Trump officials allow states to loosen ObamaCare coverage requirements | GOP lawmakers air concerns with Trump drug price plan | Dem single-payer fight shifting to battle over Medicare 'buy-in' | US life expectancy falls GOP lawmakers air concerns with Trump drug pricing move in meeting with health chief MORE (R-Ind.), is pushing back.

"It's not the direction that I would take," Bucshon, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees the issue, told The Hill. "I understand that we do want to get drug prices down but I think that any proposal that would lead to government price-fixing in that space is a pathway we don't want to follow."

Asked if Congress has a role in potentially overruling the proposal, Bucshon said, "I don't know yet."

"That's above my pay grade to think about that, but there's ongoing discussions between the administration and people on our committee at higher levels and we'll see where it goes," he added.

Trump's plan has split Republicans with some in favor: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate's health committee, said last month he was "encouraged" by the proposal.

Read more here.



Pfizer to raise drug prices next year

Pfizer will increase the list prices of 41 medicines by five percent effective Jan. 15, the company announced Friday, ending a freeze on price increases it instituted this summer.

Pfizer agreed in July to defer price increases for the rest of 2018 after President Trump publicly shamed the company on Twitter, writing that it was "taking advantage of the poor" by raising prices "for no reason."

But just two weeks into the new year, Pfizer will increase the prices for ten percent of its drug portfolio by five percent, except for three products that will increase in price by three percent and another product that will increase by 9 percent.

Pfizer said it will give bigger discounts on the drugs to insurance companies to offset the increases in list prices, and it expects those savings to be passed on to patients.

Why it matters: Insurance companies often don't pass these savings on drugs directly to the patients that buy them. Instead, insurers often use the savings to lower premiums across its risk pool.

This can hurt patients that have high deductible health plans, which requires that members pay a certain amount of funds toward their health care (say, $5,000 a year) before the insurance company picks up the tab.

It also hurts those who are uninsured and have to pay the full lists prices for drugs.

Read more here.


Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThreat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Trump mulling visit to ethanol refinery later this month: report Nursing home care: A growing crisis for an aging America  MORE (R-Iowa) announced Friday he will leave his role as Senate Judiciary chairman to chair the Senate Finance Committee.

Grassley previous served as chairman of the Finance Committee for six months in 2001 and from January 2003 to January 2007.

"The economy is better than it's been in years and there's a sense of optimism about the future of our country that people haven't felt in a long time thanks to the pro-growth policies of a Republican President and a Republican majority in Congress," Grassley said.

Why it matters: Grassley, a thorn in the side of the pharmaceutical industry, will now be in a position to usher through legislation targeting high drug prices.

One example is Grassley and Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinThreat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Senate Democrats request watchdog, Red Cross probe DHS detention facilities Iraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran MORE's Creates Act, which cracks down on tactics drug companies use to delay entry of cheaper generics to the market.

More on the committee changes here.


Incoming Kansas governor to offer Medicaid expansion proposal

There's a new Democratic governor in Kansas, and she wants to expand Medicaid.

Kansas Gov.-elect Laura Kelly (D) said she believes the state will expand Medicaid next year and will put together a proposal to do so.

In an interview with the Wichita Eagle, Kelly said if the state legislature passes an expansion bill, she will sign it.

"It's not up to me to pass Medicaid expansion, it's up to the legislature to do that and I fully expect that they will address that issue this [next] year and if they put a bill on my desk and it does what it needs to do, I will sign it," Kelly said.

The bigger picture: Medicaid expansion supporters are gaining ground. Utah, Nebraska, and Idaho passed ballot initiatives to expand Medicaid this month, and governor gains like in Kansas provide more opportunities.

Read more here.



What we're reading

A newcomer rises to the defense of pharma -- and tries to salvage its bruised reputation (Stat)

FDA chief Gottlieb threatens to pull e-cigarettes off market if 'astonishing' surge in teen use doesn't slow (CNBC)


State by state

During ObamaCare enrollment in the Trump era, states face greater challenges (Governing)

She can't afford mental health care. Medicaid expansion changes that (Idaho Statesman)