Overnight Health Care — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Grassley insists drug companies will testify on prices | Dems use hearing to hit GOP on pre-existing conditions | Bloomberg says 'Medicare for all' could bankrupt country

Overnight Health Care — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Grassley insists drug companies will testify on prices | Dems use hearing to hit GOP on pre-existing conditions | Bloomberg says 'Medicare for all' could bankrupt country
© Stefani Reynolds

Welcome to Tuesday's Overnight Health Care.

It was a big day for drug pricing on Capitol Hill, with both the House Oversight and Senate Finance Committees holding hearings. Senate Finance Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP senators call for Barr to release full results of Epstein investigation Trump health official: Controversial drug pricing move is 'top priority' Environmental advocates should take another look at biofuels MORE (R-Iowa) was not thrilled with drug companies...


Grassley: I'll be 'insistent' on drug companies testifying on their prices

Grassley said he invited drug companies to testify at the Finance Committee on Tuesday but all but two small ones refused.

And the GOP chairman is not backing down.

Asked if he would compel companies to testify by issuing subpoenas, Grassley demurred, but indicated he intends to get the testimony.

"They'll appear," he said when asked about issuing a subpoena. "I don't want to use that word because it's a club that you shouldn't have to use when you've got legitimate questions to ask on the basis of transparency."

What to watch: We know Democrats want to take major action against drug companies. The question is how far Republicans are willing to go. Grassley has been willing to take on pharma in some instances, but it's worth watching other GOP senators as well.

Early signs: Several GOP senators questioned the rebate system. Sen. John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy O'Rourke says he will not 'in any scenario' run for Senate MORE (R-Texas) also asked why insulin prices remain so high 100 years after the drug started being used.

Read more here.




Meanwhile over in the House, Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsCan the Democrats unseat Trump? Democrats slam alleged politicization of Trump State Department after IG report Senior Trump officials accused of harassing, retaliating against career State Dept. employees MORE (D-Md.) pleaded with his witnesses to discuss solutions, rather than continuing to debate the same topics that have been discussed ad nauseum.

"I want to know some solutions," Cummings said. "I have a fear that we will talk and talk and talk and talk, and people will die while we are talking and it will only get worse."

Rising drug prices are a bipartisan concern, but Republicans and Democrats don't have the same ideas on how to fix the issue. GOP lawmakers also accused Democrats of playing politics with the issue.

"Earlier this month, the majority launched an investigation into pharmaceutical companies' pricing models without minority consultation, and without any indication of their scope or plans other than signaling that they would be dragging in pharmaceutical CEOs in the coming months for testimony," said the committee's ranking member Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanDemocratic Women's Caucus calls for investigation into Epstein plea deal DOJ releases notes from official Bruce Ohr's Russia probe interviews CNN slams GOP for not appearing on network after mass shootings, conservatives fire back MORE (R-Ohio).


The Ways & Means Committee kicked off their first hearing of 2019 by hammering the GOP on pre-existing conditions.


  • Democrats don't plan to let up on their campaign messaging that the GOP doesn't support protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Republicans argue they do support those protections, but ObamaCare costs are too high.
  • There's probably not going to be a bipartisan consensus on this issue in this Congress.

More on the hearing here.


Bloomberg on Medicare for all: 'You could never afford that'

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg dismissed calls for a "Medicare for all" health care system on Tuesday, saying that such a plan would bankrupt the country.

Speaking to journalists at an event in New York, Bloomberg appeared to criticize several Democratic 2020 contenders who have expressed support for Medicare for all in recent months.

"I think you could never afford that," Bloomberg says. "You're talking about trillions of dollars."

"You can have Medicare for all for people who are uncovered," he continues, "But ... to replace the entire private system where companies provide health care for their employees would bankrupt us for a very long time."

Read more here.



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What we're reading

Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisJoe Biden faces an uncertain path Biden: 'There's an awful lot of really good Republicans out there' Fighter pilot vs. astronaut match-up in Arizona could determine control of Senate MORE backs Medicare for all and she isn't messing around (HuffPost)

Yarmuth says Democrats to begin Medicare for all hearings (Reuters)

Harris and the Democrats' Medicare-for-all litmus test (Vox.com)

Alex Azar: Why drug prices keep going up -- and why they need to come down (Stat News)   


State by state

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly models Medicaid expansion plan on bill passed by 2017 Legislature (Topeka Capital Journal)


Abortion in Ohio: Could Gov. DeWine's promised heartbeat bill signature trigger end of Roe v. Wade? (Cincinnati Enquirer)

Idaho Supreme Court hears Medicaid expansion arguments (Associated Press)


From The Hill's op-ed page

To lower drug prices, we should pursue price transparency -- not price controls