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 John TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

 

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 GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyMcConnell goes hands-off on coronavirus relief bill GOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe On The Money: Unemployment debate sparks GOP divisions | Pandemic reveals flaws of unemployment insurance programs | Survey finds nearly one-third of rehired workers laid off again 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

ADVERTISEMENT

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 SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseDemocrats seek to exploit Trump-GOP tensions in COVID-19 talks On The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP McConnell: 15-20 GOP senators will not vote for any coronavirus deal 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 MurrayPelosi huddles with chairmen on surprise billing but deal elusive House approves two child care bills aimed at pandemic GOP, Democratic relief packages B apart on vaccine funding 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

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

 

SPONSORED CONTENT - PHARMACEUTICAL CARE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION

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)