Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Senators seek answers on surprise medical bills | Red states move to limit Medicaid expansion | Two drug companies agree to testify

Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Senators seek answers on surprise medical bills | Red states move to limit Medicaid expansion | Two drug companies agree to testify
© Greg Nash

Welcome to Tuesday's Overnight Health Care. President TrumpDonald TrumpMaria Bartiromo defends reporting: 'Keep trashing me, I'll keep telling the truth' The Memo: The center strikes back Republicans eye Nashville crack-up to gain House seat MORE will deliver his second State of the Union tonight, and we'll be watching for health care news. Check in at TheHill.com for our live coverage.

Trump is expected to call on Congress to support the administration's health care and prescription drug proposals, aimed at driving down costs.

He will also mention abortion, and a new goal to eliminate HIV in ten years.


One issue where Trump and Congress could potentially compromise: surprise billing. That's where we'll start tonight...


Bipartisan senators ask industry for information on surprise medical bills

The bipartisan effort to prevent people from getting massive unexpected medical bills is ramping up.

The latest move: Lawmakers sent letters on Tuesday to a variety of insurers and medical providers asking detailed questions about data on their billing and payment procedures.

What it means: The letter is a sign of the increased activity around an issue that is seen as a rare major area of health policy that could see bipartisan action this year.

President Trump gave the effort a boost last month when he held an event with patients who had received surprise medical bills.


The big question: Industry groups are jockeying to make sure they don't get asked to pick up too much of the tab. Whether major groups end up fighting the legislation will be a key question.

Read more here.



Red states move to limit Medicaid expansion approved by voters

Voters passed Medicaid expansion in November in Utah and Idaho. Now GOP legislators might roll it back.

Utah's state Senate on Monday advanced a measure to cover those who make up to 100 percent of the federal poverty limit under Medicaid.

Those who make between 100 percent and 138 percent of the federal poverty level would be required to purchase subsidized insurance plans on the ACA's individual marketplace.

The politics: Democrats are accusing GOP legislators of overturning the will of the people.

Path forward: The Senate-passed bill, which must now pass the state House before heading to Gov. Gary Herbert's (R) desk, would require a waiver from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to cover costs.

CMS has punted on similar waivers with other states. Arkansas and Massachusetts, which experts said asked for similar exemptions, were rejected.

If CMS refuses to grant the waiver, the Senate-passed bill would repeal the voter-passed Medicaid expansion.

Read more here.



Two drug companies agree to testify

Two drug companies so far have agreed to testify before the Senate Finance Committee on their prices at a Feb. 26 hearing, according to a spokesman for Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck Grassley 64 percent of Iowans say 'time for someone else' to hold Grassley's Senate seat: poll Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision On The Money: Yellen, Powell brush off inflation fears | Fed keeps rates steady, upgrades growth projections MORE (R-Iowa).

AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Pfizer and Sanofi were invited.

Grassley previously denounced the companies for declining to testify at an earlier hearing. Some lawmakers are sure to berate them for their prices.  


Senate Dems block Sasse measure meant to respond to Virginia bill


Senate Democrats blocked abortion-related legislation on Monday night in the wake of a political firestorm sparked by a Virginia abortion rights bill last week.

Sen. Ben SasseBen SasseGOP senators applaud Biden for global vaccine donation plans Pence: Trump and I may never 'see eye to eye' on events of Jan. 6 White House: Biden will not appoint presidential Jan. 6 commission MORE (R-Neb.) tried to pass legislation that penalizes doctors who fail to "exercise the proper degree of care in the case of a child who survives an abortion or attempted abortion."

But Sasse was blocked by Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayPublic option fades with little outcry from progressives Senate GOP blocks bill to combat gender pay gap OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden suspends Arctic oil leases issued under Trump |  Experts warn US needs to better prepare for hurricane season | Progressives set sights on Civilian Climate Corps MORE (D-Wash.), who argued that U.S. laws already prohibit infanticide and warned that Republicans were misrepresenting the bill.

"We have laws against infanticide in this country. This is a gross misinterpretation of the actual language of the bill that is being asked to be considered and therefore, I object," she said.

More on the debate here.


Senate Health Committee Democrats ask companies to explain 'skyrocketing' insulin prices


Dems, led by ranking member Patty Murray (D-Wash.), sent letters to executives at Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi.

"It is clear these steep price increases are resulting in patients lacking access to the life-saving medications they need," the senators wrote in letters to the three companies, about rising insulin costs.

The request follows a similar one made by the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

Read the letters here.



PBMs are advocates for consumers to keep prescription drugs affordable. PBMs promote consumer-friendly tools that encourage competition among drugmakers. We’re #OnYourRxSide. Learn more at http://OnYourRxSide.org.


What we're reading

'Medicare For All' is turning into a 2020 litmus test for Democrats (HuffPo)

How Trump's latest plan to cut drug prices will affect you (The New York Times)

The new Supreme Court may be on the verge of its first important abortion ruling (National Review)


State by state

Wyoming lawmakers shut down bill to expand Medicaid coverage (Associated Press)

Abortion, transgender health protections should be 'wiped permanently' from ObamaCare, says Texas AG Ken Paxton (Dallas Morning News)