Overnight Health Care: Dem senators offer 'Medicare X' bill | McConnell tells Trump Senate won't take up ObamaCare repeal | Insulin makers to testify | Scalise moves to force vote on abortion bill

Welcome to Tuesday's Overnight Health Care.

It's been a busy day. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFormer Bush assistant: Mueller report makes Obama look 'just plain bad' 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform Dem says marijuana banking bill will get House vote this spring MORE says he put the kibosh on President TrumpDonald John TrumpImpeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent Feds say marijuana ties could prevent immigrants from getting US citizenship Trump approval drops to 2019 low after Mueller report's release: poll MORE's efforts to get Congress to return to ObamaCare repeal and replace. Republicans are eager to move on to other issues, like abortion. Meanwhile, moderate Senate Democrats have re-introduced a public option health plan. 

We'll start with a new version of old legislation:

 

Bennet, Kaine offer 'Medicare X' plan for public option

Two Democratic senators rolled out a proposal Tuesday that would allow anyone to buy Medicare plans, a blueprint they say is more realistic for implementing than Medicare for all, which would eliminate private insurance companies and reshape the American health care system.

The introduction of "Medicare X" comes as the Democratic Party debates its next steps on health care, with the left wing of the caucus pushing for a single-payer system and more moderate members supporting efforts to strengthen the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

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"I just think this is a much more practical way of trying to achieve the objective of universal coverage, and over time, a reduction in our expenditures on health care, then practically any other proposal that's been made since the ACA was passed," said Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetMichael Bennet declared cancer-free, paving way for possible 2020 run License to discriminate: Religious exemption laws are trampling rights in rural America Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates MORE (D-Colo.), who is weighing a run for president and sponsored the bill with Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Democratic proposals to overhaul health care: A 2020 primer Dems ask Justice Dept to release findings of Acosta-Epstein investigation MORE (D-Va.), Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonImpeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent Former Bush assistant: Mueller report makes Obama look 'just plain bad' Seth Rich's brother calls for those pushing conspiracy to 'take responsibility' MORE's running mate in 2016.

Why it matters: It shows yet another divide within the Democratic party about what the next steps should be on health care. While Medicare for all has been embraced by several 2020 presidential contenders, some would likely say this bill doesn't go far enough.

As Kaine said in the call, the bill "preserves everything about the existing system." But that would face opposition from progressive Democrats who consider the current 'system' to be the problem with rising health costs in the U.S.

Context: This is just one of many proposals to expand Medicare but will likely be part of the discussion should Democrats gain more power in the 2020 elections. 

More on the proposal here.

 

Democrats rally at Supreme Court ahead of ObamaCare vote

House and Senate Democrats rallied on the steps of the Supreme Court Tuesday ahead of a vote on a resolution asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to reverse its decision to side with a lower court ruling ObamaCare unconstitutional.

The symbolic resolution will likely pass the Democratic-controlled House Wednesday, but it won't get a vote in the Senate, where Republicans are in the majority.

But it gives Democrats another chance to highlight the Trump administration's efforts to repeal ObamaCare, which they see as a winning issue ahead of the 2020 elections.

"We need our Republican colleagues to come to the table and defend their constituents instead of the president," said Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne Shaheen Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 William Barr is right to investigate FBI actions during 2016 campaign Trolling of Bill Barr shows how language is twisted to politics MORE (D-N.H.), the Senate sponsor of the resolution.

Why it matters: Democrats want to keep drawing attention to the Trump administration's actions in the ObamaCare lawsuit, viewing it as a winning issue ahead of 2020. The House will also vote on the resolution tomorrow, forcing Republicans to take another hard vote on health care.

The other side: Republicans note that the resolution is meaningless, and argue that Democrats aren't actually doing anything to protect people should the law be struck down. Republicans have been pushing for a vote on a bill that they say would protect people with pre-existing conditions, but Democrats said it doesn't go far enough.

Read more here.

 

McConnell to Trump: We're not repealing and replacing ObamaCare

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is making it clear that he does not want to dive back into the ObamaCare repeal debate that ended in failure for his party in 2017.

McConnell told President Trump in a conversation Monday that the Senate will not be moving comprehensive health care legislation before the 2020 election, despite the president asking Senate Republicans to do that in a meeting last week.

"We had a good conversation yesterday afternoon and I pointed out to him the Senate Republicans' view on dealing with comprehensive health care reform with a Democratic House of Representatives," McConnell told reporters Tuesday, describing his conversation with Trump.

The politics: With Democratic control of the House, there is no chance of actually signing into law ObamaCare repeal legislation before 2021. Therefore, reopening the debate means diving back into an issue that divides Republicans and galvanizes Democrats.

What to watch for: McConnell and other Republicans will try to keep the attention on Medicare for all, which they see as a political loser for Democrats.

Read more here.

 

Another issue where the GOP wants to put the focus instead... abortion. Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph Scalise20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform GOP to launch discharge petition on anti-BDS measure This week: Democrats revive net neutrality fight MORE is moving to force a floor vote on an abortion bill.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) on Tuesday took a step toward forcing a floor vote on legislation that would require medical care protections for infants that survive an abortion.

Introduction of the discharge petition is the latest attempt by Republicans to circumvent Democratic control of the House floor and force members across the aisle to cast a vote on a politically divisive topic.

"It should be the easiest decision to make, to sign the discharge petition," Scalise told The Hill. "Whether you're pro-life or pro-choice you should be able to stand up for babies who were born alive outside the womb."

But opponents of the bill, like Planned Parenthood, say it's an effort to criminalize doctors and further stigmatize abortion.

"Today's filing was yet another out of touch attack on women's health and rights – based on dangerous lies," said Jacqueline Ayers, vice president of government relations for Planned Parenthood.

"Republican leadership is shaming women and criminalizing doctors for a practice that doesn't exist in reality.

Read more here.

 

Insulin manufacturers to testify as part of House pricing probe

The only three companies that manufacture insulin in the United States will testify in the House next week about their pricing practices.

Rep. Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteHouse Democrats probe Trump administration's funding of anti-abortion group Dems push back on White House suggesting they're 'not smart enough' for Trump's tax returns Overnight Energy: Bernhardt confirmed as Interior chief | Dems probing if EPA officials broke ethics rules | Senators offer bipartisan carbon capture bill MORE (D-Colo.), chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee, said the three companies-- Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi-- will testify April 10.

"We want to know why the cost of this life-saving drug has skyrocketed in recent years, and why they're not offering more lower-cost alternatives to patients," DeGette said.

The hearing will be the committee's second in two weeks examining rising insulin prices, and what Congress can do to make the drug more affordable.

Degette said the panel will also hear from the three largest pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) about their role.

Drug pricing is complicated: Drugmakers say the list price of insulin isn't what patients actually pay, because secret rebates negotiated by pharmacy benefit managers will reduce it.

Insurers say they spread the savings from discounts to lower overall premiums. For the first time, there are bipartisan and bicameral probes from the top health care committees to get to the bottom of it.

Read more here

 

Former Massachusetts AG joins e-cigarette maker Juul

Former Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) is joining the government affairs team at e-cigarette maker Juul, the company said Tuesday.

Coakley, who previously lost races for Senate and governor in Massachusetts, will be working primarily with state officials, regulators and organizations to educate them on ways Juul is fighting underage use.

She had been advising Juul for several months as a partner at the law firm Foley Hoag.

Juul is the country's most dominant vaping manufacturer. Late last year, the country's largest cigarette company, Altria, which makes Marlboro cigarettes, spent more than $12 billion to buy a 35 percent stake in Juul.

Meanwhile: Coakley's successor, Maura Healey, is currently investigating Juul and other online e-cigarette retailers over concerns about the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

Read more here.

 

HHS inspector general resigns

Daniel Levinson, the head of the agency's watchdog division, announced Tuesday he will be stepping down from his position effective at the end of May. Levinson served for 15 years. Principal Deputy Inspector General Joanne Chiedl, who has worked alongside Levinson for nine years, will step in as acting inspector general on June 1.

"Dan Levinson has been a valued friend and colleague since our time together beginning at HHS in the 2000s, and all of HHS is grateful for his more than three decades of federal service," Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.


What we're reading

Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyTrump frustrated with aides who talked to Mueller The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller aftermath: What will House Dems do now? The Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday MORE's nonsensical math on ObamaCare (The Washington Post)

Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerResurfaced Buttigieg yearbook named him 'most likely to be president' Man arrested for threatening Dems, citing Omar comments Buttigieg says he wouldn't be opposed to having Phish play at his inauguration MORE says the filibuster saved ObamaCare. Is he imagining things? (Slate)

CBD is getting buzz, but does it work? And is it legal? (Associated Press)

Trump retreats on health care, saying Republican plan will appear only after the 2020 election (The New York Times)

Skimpy health plans touted by Trump bring back familiar woes for consumers (Los Angeles Times)

 

State by state

Tennessee erased insurance for at least 128,000 kids. Many parents don't know (The Tennessean)

Altered hemp bill sails through Idaho Senate, but House members are not happy (Idaho Statesman)

Louisiana governor shelves Medicaid work requirement idea (Associated Press)

 

From The Hill's opinion page:

New guidelines for family planning centers mandate bad medicine