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

Welcome to Monday's Overnight Health Care.

It may be Thanksgiving week, but there's plenty of health care news. A controversial HHS official is moving to a new role, just before Democrats take over the House... the FDA's proposed tobacco moves are angering conservatives... and Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceIsakson talks up bipartisanship in Senate farewell speech Hundreds apply to fill Isakson's Senate seat in Georgia Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Warren faces tough choices on 'Medicare for All' funding | Dems demand answers on Tom Price's charter flights | Medicaid expansion nears 2020 ballot in Oklahoma MORE is back in politics. 

We'll start with the news from HHS.

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Trump's top refugee official taking new HHS job  

Scott Lloyd, the controversial Trump administration official in charge of refugee children at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is taking on a new role at the agency.

Lloyd, who joined HHS in March 2017 as director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), is leaving that post to serve as a senior adviser at the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives.

"While I have valued my time at the Office of Refugee Resettlement, I am excited to take on this new challenge," Lloyd said in a statement through HHS.

The agency said he started the new job on Monday.

Why it matters: ORR oversaw the care of migrant children who were separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border under the administration's short-lived "zero tolerance" immigration policy.

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Lloyd moving out of ORR comes just before Democrats will take over the House (and get committee subpoena power) in January. He's faced scrutiny and outrage from abortion rights groups and congressional Democrats for his role in blocking unaccompanied minors in federal custody from getting abortions.

Reactions: Democrats and abortion rights groups are angry, and think Lloyd shouldn't be allowed to stay at HHS even in a new position.

"He should not be in HHS at all. He needs to go. #FireScottLloyd," tweeted Rep. Rosa DeLauroRosa Luisa DeLauroOvernight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments Press: Pelosi strikes back, hatred is a sin Powerful House panel to hold 'Medicare for All' hearing next week MORE (D-Conn.), a member of the House Appropriations committee.

"This is an outrage," tweeted Rep. Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteDemocrats request info on Google-Ascension partnership Trump health chief declines to detail ObamaCare replacement plan A dozen House Democrats call on EU ambassador to resign amid Ukraine scandal MORE (D-Colo.), co-chair of the House Pro-Choice Caucus.

"Scott Lloyd used his power to deny vulnerable migrants their constitutional right to an abortion. He's a danger to women at @HHSGov or in any role in this administration. He needs to be fired, as my colleagues and I demanded months ago."

The ACLU called on Democrats in the next Congress to fully investigate Lloyd's new post: 

"We urge the next Congress to conduct careful oversight of ORR to ensure that ORR is following the court order ensuring that the young women in the office's custody are able to access the care they need. We also urge Congress to conduct oversight of the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives to prevent Lloyd from trampling on other constitutional protections, such as the freedom of religion, at his new post," said Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Freedom Project.

"The damage Scott Lloyd inflicted on the people he was charged to protect, and to the agency itself, will not be easily erased," Amiri added.
Read more here.

 

Tom Price has a new gig

We haven't seen the last of Tom Price.

Price, who resigned as secretary of Health and Human Services last year following controversy about his use of a private jet, is joining the transition team of Georgia Gov.-elect Brian Kemp (R).

Kemp, who just prevailed over Democrat Stacey Abrams in the closely watched gubernatorial race, announced Price would be among the members of his transition team at a press conference on Monday.

Asked by a reporter about the selection, Kemp said Price would be helping with policy planning. "Obviously he's got a lot of great experience with health care," Kemp said.

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"No one is more experienced with legislative matters than Tom Price and certainly his time in D.C. as well, so he's a valuable member of our team, but we're going to continue to work with a lot of different people on healthcare," Kemp added.

Read more here.

 

Company hiked price for opioid overdose treatment 600 percent, according to Senate report

A new Senate report brings together two pressing issues: drug pricing and the opioid crisis.

A drug company "exploited the opioid crisis" by hiking the price of a drug used to treat opioid overdoses by more than 600 percent between 2014 and 2017, according to the report.

Key findings:

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  • Kaléo raised the price of its drug EVZIO, used to treat opioid overdoses, from $575 in 2014 to $4,100 in 2017.
  • The price hikes have cost the government more than $142 million over the past four years through charges to Medicare and Medicaid.

"Kaléo's more than 600 percent price increase of EVZIO not only exploits a country in the middle of an opioid crisis, but also American taxpayers who fund government-run health care programs designed to be a safety net for our country's elderly and most vulnerable," states the Senate report, which was led by Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanHere are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump Lawmakers call for investigation into program meant to help student loan borrowers with disabilities Senators sound alarm on dangers of ransomware attacks after briefing MORE (R-Ohio) and Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperLobbying World Overnight Energy: BLM staff face choice of relocation or resignation as agency moves | Trump says he's 'very much into climate' | EPA rule would expand limits on scientific studies Democrats give Warren's 'Medicare for All' plan the cold shoulder MORE (D-Del.), the top lawmakers on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

Read more here.

 

FDA's tobacco crackdown drawing ire from the right

The Trump administration is under fire from GOP lawmakers and conservative groups over its proposed crackdown on e-cigarettes and menthol tobacco products.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week proposed sweeping new restrictions on the sale of e-cigarettes in an effort to cut down on teenage vaping. The agency also said it would seek to ban menthol-flavored traditional cigarettes, as well as flavored cigars.

While public health advocates said the moves were long overdue, some conservatives were dismayed at just how sweeping the proposals were, saying they were heavy-handed government regulation.

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GOP lawmakers: "I am concerned the FDA's proposed actions could limit adult Americans' access to e-cigarette products that help them quit a more dangerous habit. I am also concerned about regulatory overreach," said Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSenate braces for brawl on Trump impeachment rules Trump, GOP shift focus from alleged surveillance abuse to Durham Russia probe Here are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump MORE (R-Wis.).

"It is troubling ... that an administration that pledges to put America first is targeting legal, American-made products instead of focusing its attention on states that flout federal drug laws," Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrGOP senators request interview with former DNC contractor to probe possible Ukraine ties North Carolina congressman says he won't seek reelection after redistricting Senate passes bipartisan bill to permanently fund historically black colleges MORE (R-N.C.) said.

Conservative groups: "We don't want the government, or anyone else to get in the way of these products," said Daren Bakst, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. "The market has developed important innovations that give hope to people who have a hard time stopping smoking. [This] policy is not something I would point to as being free market oriented."

Patrick Hedger, policy director at FreedomWorks, a conservative and libertarian advocacy group, said the agency's actions are running counter to the goals of the rest of the Trump administration.

"FDA is using its regulatory authority to try and achieve a perfect outcome rather than a realistic one at a time when the rest of the Trump administration is doing the exact opposite," Hedger said.

Bottom line: The Trump administration is not afraid of Republican critics when it comes to taking action against the tobacco industry. And despite the conservative criticism, the administration is receiving praise from others. Though some public health critics want the agency to do more, they've acknowledged the proposals are a positive step in the right direction.

Read more here.

 

The Hill event

Join The Hill on Wednesday, November 28 for "Preparing for a Treatment: Alzheimer's Diagnosis and Care" featuring Sens. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyWarren proposes 'Blue New Deal' to protect oceans There's a lot to like about the Senate privacy bill, if it's not watered down Trump administration drops plan to face scan all travelers leaving or entering US MORE (D-Mass.) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThe real US patent 'crisis' Graham: FBI investigation in 2016 turned into a 'criminal conspiracy' The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats worry about diversity on next debate stage MORE (R-N.C.). Editor in Chief Bob Cusack will sit down with the headliners to discuss how we prepare for the possibility of a groundbreaking advancement in the treatment of Alzheimer's. RSVP here.

 

What we're reading

Likely next House Judiciary chairman to investigate Justice Department's decision to not defend ObamaCare in court (Washington Examiner)

ObamaCare's looking so good insurers are fighting to sell it (Forbes)

Salmonella contamination in turkey is widespread and unidentified as Thanksgiving approaches (The Washington Post)

 

State by state

Medicaid expansion backers in Nebraska fear measure could be sabotaged (Associated Press)

Pharmacists take aim at benefit managers (Modern Healthcare)

Medicaid expansion supporters already looking toward 2020 ballots (Politico)

 

From The Hill's Opinion page

Talking points and health-care restrictions prevent people from enrolling in ACA