Overnight Health Care: Pelosi asks how to pay for single-payer | Liberal groups want Dems to go bigger on drug prices | Surprise medical bill legislation could come soon

Overnight Health Care: Pelosi asks how to pay for single-payer | Liberal groups want Dems to go bigger on drug prices | Surprise medical bill legislation could come soon
© Stefani Reynolds

Welcome to Thursday's Overnight Health Care.

Today, top Democrats, including Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiHistory teaches that Nancy Pelosi is right about impeachment The politics and practicalities of impeachment The Hill's Morning Report - Dems contemplate big election and court reforms MORE, expressed some misgivings over Medicare for all. Liberal groups want Democrats to go bigger on drug pricing, but a GOP-aligned group is already pushing back.

We'll start with the pushback on Medicare for all:


Pelosi on single-payer health care: 'How do you pay for that?'

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is certainly voicing some skepticism about single-payer health care (also known as Medicare for all).

"That is, administratively, the simplest thing to do, but to convert to it? Thirty trillion dollars. Now, how do you pay for that?" Pelosi said of single-payer in an interview with Rolling Stone.

Pelosi's balancing act: Many more-centrist House Democrats think single-payer goes too far, and instead want to focus on improving the Affordable Care Act and perhaps adding the option for government-run insurance.

Jayapal on a different page: Jayapal said earlier this week there is much less scrutiny of how to pay for military spending or tax cuts, but "all of a sudden" when the measure is about providing health care for all, people ask how to pay for it. Jayapal's bill does not spell out how it would be paid for.

Read more here.


And other Dem leaders are skeptical too. Yarmuth says Jayapal's bill goes far beyond what he considers to be 'Medicare for all' 

"I don't consider that to be Medicare for all," House Budget Committee Chairman John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthThe politics and practicalities of impeachment Progressives seek defense freeze in budget talks On The Money: Wells Fargo chief gets grilling | GOP, Pence discuss plan to defeat Dem emergency resolution | House chair sees '50-50' chance of passing Dem budget | Trump faces pressure over Boeing MORE (D-Ky.) said.

"It's universal health care, on demand, unlimited," Yarmuth told The Hill on Thursday. "It's all single-payer, no private insurance. It's a very different thing than Medicare."

Most recently, Yarmuth co-sponsored the Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act introduced in 2017 by former Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersOvernight Health Care: Pelosi asks how to pay for single-payer | Liberal groups want Dems to go bigger on drug prices | Surprise medical bill legislation could come soon Key Dem chairman voices skepticism on 'Medicare for all' bill Democrats seek cosponsors for new 'Medicare for all' bill MORE Jr. (D-Mich.).

But he hasn't signed on to Jayapal's bill, stating that he's trying to remain neutral as the chairman of the committee that would decide how such proposals are funded.

Context: A number of other committee chairs and members of leadership have yet to sign on to the bill, but supported Conyers' version. However, Jayapal's is much more detailed. She has said she expects to pick up more support in the future.

Read more here.


Liberal groups call on Dem leaders to go bigger on drug price legislation

As the drug pricing discussion heats up, liberal groups are putting some pressure on for Democrats to go big.

"Although Medicare negotiation is a much-needed reform, it is not the only solution needed to reach most Americans," the letter to House Democratic leaders from liberal groups states. "We need reforms that lower stratospheric launch prices for new drugs and prevent price gouging on existing drugs for all payers."

The issue is certain to come up next Thursday, when the House Ways and Means health subcommittee holds a hearing on "Promoting Competition to Lower Medicare Drug Prices."

Read more here and read the letter here.


Cassidy: Legislation combating surprise medical bills could come in March

A bipartisan group of senators working on legislation to stop patients from getting massive, surprise medical bills is hoping to release new legislation by the end of March, a senator says.

Sen. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyFive things to watch for in Trump's 2020 budget Overnight Health Care - Presented by Kidney Care Partners - FDA chief Scott Gottlieb resigns | House Dems to take up drug pricing bills next week | Planned Parenthood, doctors group sue over Trump abortion rule Paul says forced vaccinations is 'giving up on liberty for a false sense of security' MORE (R-La.), one of the leaders of the effort, said Thursday that their "goal" is to release a new piece of legislation by the end of March.

Cassidy is working with a group of lawmakers, including Democratic Sens. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetCourt-packing becomes new litmus test on left New England Patriots player says he will remain in locker room during anthem next season Press: Which way do Dems go in 2020? MORE (Colo.) and Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanLawmakers introduce bipartisan bill for 'internet of things' security standards Koch-backed group pushes for new limits on Trump's tariff authority Top White House official warns hospitals on surprise medical bills MORE (N.H.), to put together the bipartisan legislation.

Why it matters: Fighting surprise medical bills is seen as one of the most likely areas for a bipartisan accomplishment on health care this year.

Read more here.  


Over 230,000 Virginians covered by Medicaid

Medicaid expansion took effect at the beginning of January, and 233,179 more Virginians now have health insurance. Those numbers are on track to beat expectations. State officials had estimated 300,000 Virginians would probably enroll in the federal-state health insurance program in the first 18 months of expansion.


Under ObamaCare, the federal government will pay at least 90 percent of the cost of coverage expansion, which in Virginia amounts to about $2 billion a year.


Shaheen introduces e-cigarette bill

Manufacturers of e-cigarettes would be required to pay a fee to help fund youth tobacco prevention efforts under a bill introduced by Democratic Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSenate Dems petition Saudi king to release dissidents, US citizen Senators offer bipartisan bill to fix 'retail glitch' in GOP tax law Overnight Energy: EPA moves to raise ethanol levels in gasoline | Dems look to counter White House climate council | Zinke cleared of allegations tied to special election MORE (N.H.).

The bill would require e-cigarette manufacturers to pay a user fee to fund efforts to increase public awareness of the risks of e-cigarette use, particularly outreach to children, as well as enforcing regulations, which includes recently imposed rules that ban flavored products being sold in retail settings and imposing heightened age verification standards online.

These fees on e-cigarette manufacturers would be assessed based on each company's U.S. market share, Shaheen said.

An aide to the senator said she has not yet reached out to manufacturers.


The Hill event

On Wednesday, March 6th, The Hill hosts "Overcoming Obstacles: Patient Access to Innovation" at the Newseum. Speakers include FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and Matt Salo, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors. Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack and Peter Sullivan will sit down with our speakers and moderate a series of discussions about keeping the patient at the center of the drug delivery system. RSVP here.


What we're reading:

Democrats who no longer support 'Medicare for all' bill have lots of excuses (HuffPost)

Likely return of the health insurance tax to impact Medicare Advantage profits (Modern Healthcare)

I'm a journalist. Apparently, I'm also one of America's "top doctors." (ProPublica)


State by state

Wisconsin governor proposes expanding Medicaid program to threshold that would bring state $320 million in additional federal dollars over two years (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

States move to restrict parents' refusal to vaccinate their kids (NPR)