Overnight Health Care: Thousands more migrant children may have been separated | Senate rejects bill to permanently ban federal funds for abortion | Women's March to lobby for 'Medicare for All'

Overnight Health Care: Thousands more migrant children may have been separated | Senate rejects bill to permanently ban federal funds for abortion | Women's March to lobby for 'Medicare for All'
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Welcome to Thursday's Overnight Health Care.

It's Day 27 of the shutdown. Today, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump pushes back on recent polling data, says internal numbers are 'strongest we've had so far' Illinois state lawmaker apologizes for photos depicting mock assassination of Trump Scaramucci assembling team of former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump MORE fired back at Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiWhy President Trump needs to speak out on Hong Kong Anti-Trump vets join Steyer group in pressing Democrats to impeach Trump Pelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid MORE (D-Calif.), who called for him to delay his State of the Union address, by scrapping an overseas trip she was planning to take.

In health care news, the watchdog for the Department of Health and Human Services says the administration has no idea how many children were separated from their parents at the southern border. And on Capitol Hill, the Senate tried -- and failed -- to tee up a bill banning abortion funding across the government.

We'll start with family separation news...


Thousands more migrant children separated from parents than previously known

The Trump administration separated thousands more migrant children from their parents than was previously known, according to a government watchdog report released Thursday.


Part of the problem: the administration had no real way of tracking them, so the numbers are hazy at best.  

The report from the inspector general's office said thousands of children have been separated from their parents during an influx that began in 2017, before the administration's "zero tolerance" policy was enacted, and before a federal judge ordered the agency to reunite all the children who were separated.

Under the zero-tolerance policy, the government was separating children without a clear plan to reunify them. Some may have been released to family or other sponsors, but it is not known how many have been reunified. Prior to the court order, HHS officials did not track whether a child was separated at the border, or whether the child crossed alone.

The report confirms that family separations at the border increased months before then-Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDOJ should take action against China's Twitter propaganda Lewandowski says he's 'happy' to testify before House panel The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy MORE wrote the zero-tolerance memo. It sheds new light on the administration's efforts to use separations as a way to deter migrants from unlawfully crossing the southern border.

House Democrats have vowed to investigate the policy; the Energy and Commerce Committee is planning hold an oversight hearing early next month, and Democrats on the Appropriations Committee have also promised to hold the administration accountable. It remains to be seen whether Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar will testify, though Democrats have expressed a strong interest in hearing from him.

More on the report here.


Dem clarifies on Medicare for all hearing

We wrote on Wednesday that Rep. Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Planned Parenthood ousts its president | Harris releases drug pricing plan | House Dem drug plan delayed until after recess Democratic chair: Medicare negotiating drug prices not moving before August House bill targets use of Pentagon networks for child pornography MORE (D-Calif.), the new chairwoman of the Energy and Commerce health subcommittee, said that she wants to hold a hearing on Medicare for all proposals, a boost for its backers.

Later in the day on Wednesday Eshoo told Politico that she would only hold a Medicare for all hearing if there's "spare time" after dealing with ObamaCare and drug pricing.

So we asked Eshoo's office on Thursday to clarify. It sounds like she does want to hold a hearing on Medicare for all but acknowledges that time could be a factor.

"Yes, if the Health Subcommittee can get to it with perhaps a joint hearing with the other Committees that share jurisdiction," Eshoo said in a statement on Thursday. 


Women's March plans day of lobbying for Medicare for all

The Women's March and other progressive organizations are planning to lobby for "Medicare for All" legislation on the eve of the annual Women's March in Washington, D.C., this weekend.

Members of the groups are planning to storm Capitol Hill on Friday for a "lobby day" to kick off a weekend of events surrounding the annual march through downtown Washington.

The national Women's March organization expects that "thousands" of people will participate in the lobbying push on Friday, Women's March senior adviser Winnie Wong told The Hill.

Participants will be instructed to go directly to their lawmakers' offices throughout the day to voice support for a pair of bills introduced by progressive lawmakers.

More on the plans here.


The Senate on Thursday voted against a bill that would permanently ban the use of federal funding for abortions. 

The bill would have enshrined in law a long-standing provision that is tacked on to appropriations bills every year, forbidding the use of federal funds for abortions in programs like Medicaid. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump faces crucial decisions on economy, guns Are Democrats turning Trump-like? House Democrat calls for gun control: Cities can ban plastic straws but 'we can't ban assault weapons?' MORE teed up the vote for Thursday, one day ahead of the March for Life, the annual march against abortion that takes place in Washington.

Read more here.


Trump administration asks for comments on 'silver-loading' in ObamaCare

It's long been a rumor that the Trump administration could try to ban "silver-loading," a complicated practice from insurers that has the effect of increasing ObamaCare subsidies that help people afford their premiums.

On Thursday as part of a sweeping annual ObamaCare regulation, the administration asked for public comment on the practice, without making any changes at this time.

That leaves open the possibility that the administration could seek to ban the practice next year, which would be sure to draw fire from Democrats.

Read the fact sheet on the regulation here.  


What we're reading

Compare Democrats' many Medicare-for-All proposals with this chart (PBS)

Doctors are frightened by climate change. Their industry is a big part of the problem. (Vox.com)

Patient and medical groups blast Trump administration drug pricing proposal in new ad campaign (Stat)


State by state

Providers sue Pennsylvania over state Medicaid abortion restrictions (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Soaring prescription drug prices 'one of the hottest political issues in 2019' (Indianapolis Star)

Tony Evers and Republican lawmakers battle over taxes, health coverage (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


From The Hill's opinion page

Trump's Medicare rule change threatens to reignite AIDS epidemic