Overnight Health Care: Lawmakers get deal to advance long-stalled drug pricing bill | House votes to condemn Trump's anti-ObamaCare push | Eight House Republicans join with Dems | Trump officials approve Medicaid expansion in Maine

Welcome to Wednesday's Overnight Health Care.

Today, House Democrats voted to condemn the Trump administration's push to have courts invalidate ObamaCare, key House lawmakers reached an agreement on a drug pricing legislation, a major insurer announced big savings on insulin, and a Republican House member wants to raise the legal smoking age.  

We'll start with drug pricing:

 

Pallone, Walden reach bipartisan deal to advance long-stalled drug pricing bill

Some progress on drug pricing: House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone and Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenIs there internet life after thirty? Outdated safe harbor laws have no place in trade agreements Trump officials propose easing privacy rules to improve addiction treatment MORE (R-Ore.), the panel's top Democrat have a deal in six bills aimed at lowering drug prices.

Aides in both parties said Democrats verbally agreed to make changes to one of the most prominent measures, known as the Creates Act, which cracks down on tactics drug companies use to delay the introduction of cheaper generic drugs.

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That bill was stalled for much of last year amid lobbying in opposition from the powerful pharmaceutical industry. But opposition from the industry has lessened recently amid intensifying scrutiny of high drug prices, and some drug company CEOs even said they supported the bill during a high-profile hearing before the Senate Finance Committee in February.

The path forward: The measures likely could have passed the House anyway, given Democratic control of the chamber, but the support from Walden and other key Republicans makes it more likely there will be pressure on the Senate to act as well, especially given that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces White House denies exploring payroll tax cut to offset worsening economy Schumer joins Pelosi in opposition to post-Brexit trade deal that risks Northern Ireland accord MORE (R-Iowa) also supports the Creates Act and the "pay for delay" legislation.

Read more here.

 

Eight House Republicans condemn Trump's latest anti-ObamaCare push

The House on Wednesday passed a resolution condemning the Trump administration's push to have the courts invalidate ObamaCare.  The measure passed 240-186.

Eight Republicans joined all but one Democrat in voting for the measure, which passed 240-186.

GOP Reps. Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikRepublican lawmakers ask Trump not to delay Pentagon cloud-computing contract Rising number of GOP lawmakers criticize Trump remarks about minority Dems Overnight Defense: Woman accusing general of sexual assault willing to testify | Joint Chiefs pick warns against early Afghan withdrawal | Tensions rise after Iran tries to block British tanker MORE (N.Y.), John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoRepublicans should get behind the 28th Amendment Student loan borrowers are defaulting yearly — how can we fix it? Overnight Defense: Woman accusing general of sexual assault willing to testify | Joint Chiefs pick warns against early Afghan withdrawal | Tensions rise after Iran tries to block British tanker MORE (N.Y.), Chris SmithChristopher (Chris) Henry SmithRepublicans plot comeback in New Jersey The 9 House Republicans who support background checks The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants MORE (N.J.), Tom ReedThomas (Tom) W. ReedConservatives push Trump tariff relief over payroll tax cuts Republicans' rendezvous with reality — their plan is to cut Social Security The Democratic plan for smaller paychecks MORE (N.Y.), Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickHouse Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 Ensuring quality health care for those with intellectual disabilities and autism House Democrats target 2020 GOP incumbents in new ad MORE (Pa.), Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonThe 9 House Republicans who support background checks Al Green says impeachment is 'only solution' to Trump's rhetoric Trump primary challenger Bill Weld responds to rally chants: 'We are in a fight for the soul of the GOP' MORE (Mich.), Pete StauberPeter (Pete) Allen StauberHold off on anti-mining hysteria until the facts are in Overnight Health Care: Lawmakers get deal to advance long-stalled drug pricing bill | House votes to condemn Trump's anti-ObamaCare push | Eight House Republicans join with Dems | Trump officials approve Medicaid expansion in Maine The 8 Republicans who voted against Trump's anti-ObamaCare push MORE (Minn.) and Denver RigglemanDenver RigglemanHouse Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 Effort to censure GOP congressman for officiating same-sex wedding fails Congress needs to continue fighting the opioid epidemic MORE (Va.) voted in favor of the resolution. Rep. Anthony GonzalezAnthony GonzalezAmerica's colleges and universities are aggressively addressing foreign threats The 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran Freshman members form bipartisan task force on election vulnerabilities ahead of 2020 MORE (R-Ohio) voted present.

Democratic Rep. Collin PetersonCollin Clark PetersonThe 9 House Republicans who support background checks Congress must work together and solve humanitarian crisis at the border GOP scores procedural win by securing more funding to enforce Iran sanctions MORE (Minn.) voted with Republicans against the measure.  Why it matters: Democrats want to force Republicans to take tough votes on health care ahead of the 2020 elections. This follows the House's January vote to intervene in the Texas lawsuit (which only three Republicans voted for, Katko, Fitzpatrick and Reed.)
Read more on the vote here and on the GOP defectors here.

 

Trump administration approves Medicaid expansion in Maine

The Trump administration on Wednesday approved Maine's request to accept federal funds under ObamaCare to expand Medicaid, after nearly a year and a half of political battles.

According to Gov. Janet Mills (D), the administration's approval is retroactive to July 2, 2018, the date the expansion was originally supposed to be implemented.

Maine was the first state to approve expansion by a ballot initiative in 2017, but former GOP Gov. Paul LePage had long blocked it from taking effect. He argued that expansion was not adequately funded but vetoed a spending bill that would have funded it. LePage continued to oppose expansion even after a judge ordered him to start it.

When Mills took office, she signed an executive order instructing the state to move forward.

As part of the expansion plan, the federal government will pay more than $800 million from July 2, 2018 through state fiscal year 2021. Maine is among 36 states plus the District of Columbia that have expanded Medicaid under ObamaCare.

The expansion will cover an additional 70,000 people.

 

GOP lawmaker to propose raising tobacco age of sale to 21

A Republican lawmaker will introduce legislation this week that would raise tobacco age of sale requirements from 18 to 21.

Rep. Robert AderholtRobert Brown AderholtHouse advances B agriculture bill Dems advance bill defying Trump State Department cuts Maryland raises legal tobacco purchasing age to 21 MORE (R-Ala.) said his intent is to keep tobacco products like e-cigarettes out of the hands of teenagers.

"It's these enterprising 18-year-olds that are selling to minors and increasing the age to 21 will make it harder for this type of activity," Aderholt said at an appropriations hearing Wednesday.

Why it matters: Democrats in Congress have long tried to raise the minimum tobacco buying age from 18, with bills introduced in the past by Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzBrazil's Bolsonaro reverses on Amazon, announces plans to send armed forces to fight wildfires Senate Democrat threatening to suspend funding to Brazil amid Amazon fires 'Medicare for All' complicates Democrats' pitch to retake Senate MORE (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteLawmakers criticize EPA draft rule for curbing rights to challenge pollution permits Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Crucial for Congress to fund life-saving diabetes research MORE (D-Colo.). But this is the first time such a bill will be introduced by a Republican in Congress. The idea has been embraced by e-cigarette companies like Juul as it tries to heed off federal regulation.

Read more here.

 

FDA investigating reports of seizures after e-cigarette use

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating reports that e-cigarettes might be triggering seizures among a small portion of smokers.

The agency on Wednesday said it is looking into 35 reported cases of seizures, mainly among young people, following use of e-cigarettes between 2010 and early 2019.

Agency officials said they can't say for certain that vaping is the cause of the seizures, but they want the public to be aware.

The FDA has not established a pattern among reported cases: Seizures have been reported among first-time e-cigarette users and experienced users, and they have been reported as occurring immediately after inhalation and as much as a day after use.

FDA officials urged anyone who has used e-cigarettes and had a seizure to report the issue on a federal safety portal.

"While 35 cases may not seem like much compared to the total number of people using e-cigarettes, we are nonetheless concerned by these reported cases," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and Principal Deputy Commissioner Amy Abernethy said in a statement. "We believe these 35 cases warrant scientific investigation into whether there is in fact a connection."

Read more here.

 

Cigna says it will cap insulin costs at $25 a month for some patients

Health insurance company Cigna announced Wednesday it will cap the price of a 30-day insulin supply at $25 for some of its members.

The announcement comes as insurers and drug manufacturers face growing questions from Congress and the Trump administration about the rising cost of insulin.

Cigna and its pharmacy benefit manager, Express Scripts, said the program will be available for nongovernment Cigna plans for employers, unions and individuals starting Wednesday.

Why it matters: Pharmacy benefit managers, the middlemen who negotiate the prices of drugs with drugmakers, have faced intense scrutiny from political leaders, who argue that they do not pass the savings they get on drugs down to the patients who buy them.

Upcoming scrutiny: Express Scripts and four other pharmacy benefit managers will testify before the Senate Finance Committee and House Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee next week, where they are likely to face questions about insulin prices.

In a statement, Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was skeptical of the timing of the announcement.

"Any time out-of-pocket prescription drug costs are lowered, that's good news for patients. But it's unclear why this is only happening now. Why couldn't this have been done years ago?" Grassley said. "It shouldn't take bad press and congressional scrutiny to get health plans, their pharmacy benefit managers and pharmaceutical companies to arrive at a fair price for a drug that's been on the market for nearly a century."

More on Cigna's move here.

 

What we're reading

The GOP's capitulation to ObamaCare (The Washington Post)

The clinic's experimental stem cell treatment blinded patients. Four years later, the government is still trying to shut it down. (The Washington Post)

Sorrento Therapeutic sues billionaire Soon-Shiong over development of cancer drug (The Wall Street Journal)

It's terrifyingly easy to get measles vaccine exemptions (Kaiser Health News)

 

State by state

ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion is helping fight West Virginia's opioid epidemic (Vox.com)

30K people removed from Louisiana Medicaid rolls, deemed ineligible (The Advocate)

 

From The Hill's opinion page:

Association health plans are enticing but ultimately not worth the risk

Congress take action now to make insulin affordable  

Health care debate front and center for 2020