Overnight Health Care: Dems demand answers on rule targeting Planned Parenthood | Senators tell FDA to speed approval of generic insulin | Nearly 8 in 10 say drug prices are 'unreasonable' in new poll

Overnight Health Care: Dems demand answers on rule targeting Planned Parenthood | Senators tell FDA to speed approval of generic insulin | Nearly 8 in 10 say drug prices are 'unreasonable' in new poll
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Today, Democrats want the Trump administration to explain its recent rule on family planning grants and a new poll shows the public wants government action on drug prices.


House Democrats demand Trump administration justify new abortion 'gag' rule

House Democrats are stepping up the pressure on the Trump administration over a new rule targeting Planned Parenthood.

In a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders said the administration's new rule undermines congressional intent for the program by reducing -- instead of increasing -- access to health care.


"We have serious concerns regarding the final rule's compliance with the Title X statute, the public health implications of this action, and the administration's rationale for these changes," the Democrats wrote to HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

Background: Under the rule, released late last week, family planning clinics that provide abortions or refer patients for abortions will not be eligible for federal funds under the Title X program.

Politics: This rule is at the center of a classic fight between Democrats attacking it as hurting women's health and anti-abortion groups and Republicans cheering the move.

Read more here.


Poll: Nearly 8 in 10 think prescription drug prices are 'unreasonable'

New ammunition for the push to rein in drug prices from a Kaiser Family Foundation poll:

  • 79 percent of respondents classified drug prices as "unreasonable," while just 17 percent found them "reasonable."
  • 24 percent of respondents said they found it difficult to pay the costs of their prescription medications.

Context: The poll comes as bipartisan calls to lower drug prices increase. On Tuesday, senators in both parties pressed drug company CEOs about their prices.

Advocates seized on the poll (and threw in some shade over Bryce Harper). Ben Wakana, executive director of Patients for Affordable Drugs said:

"Move over Bryce Harper's contract, American taxpayers just spotlighted another bad deal: Big Pharma's drug prices. Today's Kaiser poll proves that patients and taxpayers understand the drug pricing system is broken, and they want change. That's one reason why Americans support stronger negotiations with drug corporations and more generic competition."

Read more here.


Speaking of which... Senators tell FDA to speed up approvals of generic insulin

Bipartisan outrage over the cost of insulin is also coming into focus.

Sens. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinTrump defends push to ban flavored e-cigarettes: Let's 'keep young children from Vaping!' Overnight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine Overnight Health Care: Juul's lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare MORE (D-Ill.), Kevin CramerKevin John CramerPrimary challenges show potential cracks in Trump's GOP Castro, Steyer join pledge opposing the Keystone XL pipeline EPA proposes rolling back states' authority over pipeline projects MORE (R-N.D.), Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyRepublicans grumble over Trump shifting military funds to wall Push on 'surprise' medical bills hits new roadblocks Iowa professor resigns after saying he's affiliated with antifa MORE (R-La.), and Tina SmithTina Flint SmithThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Former GOP Rep. Jason Lewis says he'll challenge Tina Smith in Minnesota Reid says he wishes Franken would run for Senate again MORE (D-Minn.) urged the agency to amend a recent guidance that they said poses "unreasonable approval delays for insulin products that could help patients with diabetes." According to the lawmakers, a 2018 FDA guidance meant to ease the approval pathway for lower-cost "biosimilar" products instead creates a "perverse incentive that could delay approval of generic insulin."

The guidance will bring new insulin products into market in 2020, but the current regulatory framework could delay the introduction of low-cost insulin products into the market in the short-term, when they are needed most, the senators wrote.

Read more here.


Coming next week: Hearing on ACA fixes

Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold another hearing on some ObamaCare fixes on Wednesday. The three bills they will discuss would:

  • Provide $10 billion per year for states to use for reinsurance funding to bring down premiums or for lowering out of pocket costs for consumers.
  • Provide $100 million per year for navigators that help sign people up for coverage.
  • Provide $200 million for states to set up state-run Affordable Care Act marketplaces.


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

Third potential carcinogen found in blood-pressure drugs (Bloomberg)

Despite 1991 ruling, foes of new family planning rules see law on their side (Kaiser Health News)

FDA chief hands the White House his plan to restrict flavored e-cigs (Axios)


State by state

Oregon governor to get Medicaid funding package (Associated Press)

Illinois Democrats unveil bills to rein in prescription drug prices (Capitol News Illinois)

Eager to lower drug prices, states regroup after courts strike down Maryland 'price-gouging' law (Stat News)