Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Push for cosponsors for new 'Medicare for all' bill | Court lets Dems defend ObamaCare | Flu season not as severe as last year, CDC says

Welcome to Thursday’s Overnight Health Care.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPatient advocates launch drug pricing ad campaign Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — House passes resolution rebuking Trump over Syria | Sparks fly at White House meeting on Syria | Dems say Trump called Pelosi a 'third-rate politician' | Trump, Graham trade jabs War of words at the White House MORE (R-Ky.) has teed up a vote on a bill being pushed by anti-abortion groups and President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP congressman slams Trump over report that U.S. bombed former anti-ISIS coalition headquarters US to restore 'targeted assistance' to Central American countries after migration deal Trump says lawmakers should censure Schiff MORE, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this year’s flu season has been much less severe than 2018.

But first:

Dems seek cosponsors for new 'Medicare for all' bill

The Medicare for All unveiling is getting closer.

Latest development: Reps. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Buttigieg targets Warren, Sanders on health care ahead of debate | Judge overturns ObamaCare transgender protections | Poll sees support drop for 'Medicare for All' Democrats see whistleblower report as smoking gun House Democrats say memo of Trump call bolsters impeachment case MORE (D-Wash.) and Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellPelosi focused on narrow impeachment probe on Ukraine: report Pelosi announces launch of formal impeachment inquiry into Trump More Democrats threaten impeachment over Trump's dealings with Ukraine MORE (D-Mich.) sent a letter on Tuesday, which was obtained by The Hill, saying they have been working with experts for months to write an updated version of the single-payer health care legislation. Jayapal says she plans to introduce the measure later this month.

Cosponsors: The letter says that as of Tuesday there were 93 cosponsors on the bill. A Democratic aide said that by the time it is introduced they expect to have “more than 100.”

Details: The bill to be introduced will add a range of benefits to enhance the coverage currently provided under Medicare, including “dental, vision, prescription drugs, women’s reproductive health services, maternity and newborn care, long term services and supports and more,” the letter states.

“It would require no out-of-pocket costs for patients for any services, and it would allow all patients the freedom to choose the doctors, hospitals, and other providers they wish to see,” it adds.

What to watch: The legislation has no chance of becoming law in the next two years given GOP control of the Senate and White House, but it will be the vehicle for progressives to rally support for the proposal.

Read more here.



Schatz, Luján reintroduce Medicaid buy-in legislation

Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzSchumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever CNN catches heat for asking candidates about Ellen, Bush friendship at debate NBA draws bipartisan backlash over China response MORE (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) reintroduced legislation to create a universal Medicaid-based buy-in option.

According to the lawmakers, at least 14 states are exploring implementing a Medicaid public option within their legislatures. The bill has 61 co-sponsors across both chambers.

“Our ultimate goal here is to make sure that every single American has comprehensive health care coverage,” Schatz said in a statement

A Medicaid buy-in could be much more palatable for the health-care industry than Medicare for all, or even a Medicare public option. Medicaid pays better than Medicare, and mostly benefits the uninsured. Still, the introduction of the bill shows Democrats will have to make some decisions as they debate the future of health care in their party.

Trump previews abortion message for reelection campaign

President Trump offered a preview of his message on abortion to activists and supporters in a call Thursday as he plans to make it a focus of his reelection campaign.

“He clearly is ready to take this on in the coming presidential election,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List.

Dannenfelser briefed Trump on the issue at the White House before he participated in a nationwide conference call with activist groups and 4,500 other participants.

Why it matters: Trump has increasingly focused on abortion as he prepares for what will likely be a tough reelection bid, complicated by the ongoing investigation being led by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox News legal analyst says Trump call with Ukraine leader could be 'more serious' than what Mueller 'dragged up' Lewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network MORE. Trump is likely to put more of a focus on social issues heading into 2020.

What’s next: McConnell teed up a vote on a bill that would require abortion survivors be given proper medical care, in an effort to put Democrats in a difficult political position.

Democrats had rejected Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseHong Kong protesters trample, burn LeBron James jerseys in wake of comments This week: Congress returns to chaotic Washington Trump's GOP impeachment firewall holds strong MORE’s (R-Neb.) unanimous consent request last month because they argue his bill is duplicative of current law.

Read more here and here.

Federal court agrees to let Democrats defend ObamaCare in court

A Louisiana-based federal court of appeals on Thursday agreed to let House Democrats join a fight to save the Affordable Care Act, but refused to expedite an appeal.

Judge Leslie Southwick, on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, denied a request filed by Democratic-led states to fast-track the appeal of a lower court's ruling that ObamaCare is unconstitutional.

But Southwick granted requests to let the U.S. House and the states of Colorado, Iowa, Michigan and Nevada intervene.

Read more here.

Flu season not as severe as last year, CDC says

This year’s flu shot has prevented about half the people vaccinated from getting sick enough to need to go to the doctor, according to new federal data.

Overall, this season’s flu is significantly less harsh than last year’s, largely because of the effectiveness of this year’s vaccine, according to interim estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Fewer deaths have been attributed to influenza and pneumonia this year, and fewer people have sought outpatient care, CDC said. Still, influenza activity remains “elevated,” the agency reported.

The interim estimate covers Sept. 30, 2018, through Feb. 2.

The CDC data show the vaccine is 46 percent effective against H1N1, the most common type of flu this year, and 47 percent effective against all influenza-related illnesses.

As of Feb. 2, 28 children have died from the flu, compared to 68 at the same point last year.



At no cost to taxpayers, the 340B program is critical to the health of our patients because it allows hospitals serving vulnerable communities to address the health care needs of their communities, including providing free or substantially discounted prescriptions to low-income and rural patients, operating free clinics, treating patients with substance use disorders, and sustaining access to other lifesaving services for patients. Weakening this vital program will hurt patients. Learn more.


What we’re reading

House progressives work on ‘Medicare-for-all’ as debate heats up (Roll Call)

Beyond Beltway’s ‘Medicare-For-All’ Talk, Democrats In States Push New Health Laws (Kaiser Health News)

Flu shots this winter providing moderate levels of protection, CDC data show (Stat News)

Stop talking about measles (Slate)

State by state

If Wisconsin remains in Obamacare lawsuit, it likely will not switch sides, AG says (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Iowans on Medicaid, food assistance programs could see more eligibility reviews under this bill (Des Moines Register)