Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — McConnell, Kaine offer bill to raise tobacco buying age to 21 | Measles outbreak spreads to 24 states | Pro-ObamaCare group launches ad blitz to protect Dems
Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Dems blast rulemaking on family planning program | Facebook may remove anti-vaccine content | Medicare proposes coverage for new cancer treatment
Welcome to Friday's Overnight Health Care.
A quick note: We won't be publishing Monday, but will be back Tuesday through the rest of next week.
In today's health care news, Congress wants to know about the rise in measles outbreaks; and in a related story, Facebook is looking into removing anti-vaccine content. Also, Medicare proposed to cover innovative, but expensive, cancer therapies.
We'll start though, with Democrats raising concerns about a proposal on family-planning grants:
Dems blast Title X rulemaking process
House and Senate Dems are complaining to the Office of Management and Budget about the "unconventional and nontransparent" review process for a pending rule that would overhaul the Title X family planning program.
Democrats say they are concerned the rule will be approved without a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of the rule's potential economic and health impacts.
"We have reason to believe that the final rule, if implemented, would undermine the federal Title X family planning program and threaten access to family planning services for millions of low-income women across the United States," writes Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).
The members wrote that the regulatory review process was "unusually short" and there appears to have been no outreach to stakeholders who would be impacted by the rule.
What this all means: Democrats have long opposed this proposed rule, which conservatives and anti-abortion groups frame as a way to defund Planned Parenthood. Currently, Planned Parenthood receives thousands of dollars from the program to provide family planning services to low-income women across the country,
Democrats are asking that the rule be returned back to HHS so it can perform a regulatory impact analysis and provide stakeholders more time for public comment.
The release of the final rule is imminent.
Facebook says it may remove anti-vaccine recommendations
Facebook says it will look into removing posts promoting conspiracy theories about vaccines following complaints from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).
The company told Bloomberg News on Friday that it is "exploring additional measures to best combat the problem" of fake news and conspiracy theories being promoted on its site, which include numerous groups and message boards dedicated to spreading theories concerning a nonexistent link between vaccines and autism.
Possible steps the company could take include "reducing or removing this type of content from recommendations, including Groups You Should Join, and demoting it in search results, while also ensuring that higher quality and more authoritative information is available," the company told Bloomberg.
Facebook's statement followed a letter to the company from Schiff, who argued that Facebook's platform was contributing to global health risks caused by speculation surrounding vaccines.
House committee to hold hearing on US measles outbreak
The House Energy and Commerce Committee plans to hold a hearing later this month on the measles outbreaks in the U.S.
New York, Texas and Washington have all seen outbreaks this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Those outbreaks have been linked to travelers bringing measles to the U.S. from other countries, and spreading it among communities with groups of people who aren't vaccinated, the CDC said.
"Measles is a highly contagious, life-threatening virus that was previously eliminated in the United States thanks to the success of the measles vaccine," the bipartisan leaders of the Energy and Commerce Committee said in a statement. "Unfortunately, measles cases are on the rise as a consequence of the virus's transmission among unvaccinated groups."
Medicare proposes coverage for new, expensive cancer treatments
Medicare would pay for new, expensive cancer therapies under a proposal released Friday by the Trump administration.
The proposal would require that Medicare cover Food and Drug Administration-approved CAR T-cell therapies, which uses a patient's own immune system to fight cancer. Currently, Medicare doesn't have to pay for them.
The therapies are some of the most expensive on the market, with some costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
SPONSORED CONTENT - AMERICA'S 340B HOSPITALS
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
Seema Verma: Americans have the right to know their health care and hospital costs (Stat News)
Discharged, dismissed: ERs often miss chance to set overdose survivors on 'better path' (Kaiser Health News)
State by state
Kansas' abortion uncertainty fuels response to New York law (Associated Press)
Senate Dems' bill would end privatized Medicaid for some Iowans (Cedar Rapids Gazette)
Nearly 8,900 don't meet Arkansas Medicaid work requirement (Associated Press)
From The Hill's op-ed page