Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Sanders unveils new Medicare for all bill with backing from other 2020 Dems | White House slams Sanders' rollout | Drugmakers, 'middlemen' point fingers on insulin pricing

Welcome to Wednesday's Overnight Health Care.

Today, Bernie SandersBernie SandersNew campaign ad goes after Sanders by mentioning heart attack Biden on whether Sanders can unify party as nominee: 'It depends' Steyer rebukes Biden for arguing with supporter he thought was Sanders voter MORE introduced his Medicare for all legislation. Meanwhile, manufacturers and pharmacy benefit manufacturers are pointing fingers at each other in the House over insulin prices, and there's some initial movement in the Senate on a drug pricing measure.

We'll start with Bernie:

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Sanders unveils new Medicare for all bill with backing from other 2020 Dems

It's Medicare for all day in the Senate, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) unveiling his updated legislation.

"The American people are increasingly clear: They want a health care system which guarantees health care to all Americans as a right," Sanders said.

Presidential politics: A bunch of other presidential contenders signed onto Bernie's bill: Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden on whether Sanders can unify party as nominee: 'It depends' Overnight Health Care — Presented by Philip Morris International — HHS has no plans to declare emergency over coronavirus | GOP senator calls for travel ban to stop outbreak | Warren releases plan to contain infectious diseases Biden lines up high-profile surrogates to campaign in Iowa MORE (D-Mass.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandIt's time for paid leave for all GOP-Biden feud looms over impeachment trial Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change MORE (D-N.Y.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerOvernight Defense: White House threatens to veto House Iran bills | Dems 'frustrated' after Iran briefing | Lawmakers warn US, UK intel sharing at risk after Huawei decision White House Correspondents' Association blasts State for 'punitive action' against NPR Senate Democrat demands State Department reinstate NPR reporter on Pompeo trip MORE (D-N.J.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSanders allies in new uproar over DNC convention appointments Biden leads 2020 pack in congressional endorsements Harris on 2020 endorsement: 'I am not thinking about it right now' MORE (D-Calif.), joined the bill.

Literally standing with Bernie: Gillibrand was the only one to attend Sanders' event Wednesday introducing the bill.

Republicans eagerly bashed the bill: The GOP clearly thinks attacking Medicare for all is a winning issue, sending out a flurry of statements on Wednesday.

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"The leading Democratic 2020 presidential candidate has made it clear where Democrats stand on health care: complete chaos," said Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenOvernight Energy: Democrats unveil draft climate bill | Plan aims for carbon neutrality by 2050 | GOP senators press IRS on electric vehicle tax credit Democrats' draft climate bill charts path to carbon neutrality by 2050 Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Wyden asks NSA to investigate White House cybersecurity | Commerce withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon objects | Warren calls on Brazil to drop Greenwald charges MORE (R-Ore.).

Noteworthy: Overall, there are 14 cosponsors, two fewer then the last version of Sanders' bill.

Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenOvernight Defense: White House threatens to veto House Iran bills | Dems 'frustrated' after Iran briefing | Lawmakers warn US, UK intel sharing at risk after Huawei decision Biden: 'I sure would like Michelle to be the vice president' Foreign Relations Democrats 'deeply frustrated' after Iran briefing MORE (N.H.) is the only Senate Democrat not to sponsor Bernie's bill after doing so in 2017. Her office says there are faster ways to get to universal health care. (Note: She's also up for reelection in 2020.) Former Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenBill Press: Don't forget about Amy Key moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far Al Franken mocks McConnell: 'Like listening to Jeffrey Dahmer complain about the decline of dinner party etiquette' MORE (D-Minn.) sponsored the last version but has since resigned

Read more here.

 

 

White House slams Sanders's Medicare for All rollout

The White House also got in on the action.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders derided the plan as a "total government takeover of healthcare that would actually hurt seniors, eliminate private health insurance for 180 million Americans, and cripple our economy and future generations with unprecedented debt."

She said in a statement that the Trump administration is working on "realistic solutions" to address the shortcomings of the Affordable Care Act.

What is the White House plan?: It's mostly unclear. The White House did not offer specifics, but pledged to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions and reduce costs.

Read more here.

 

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Drugmakers, 'middlemen' point fingers on insulin pricing

House lawmakers on Wednesday asked manufacturers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to explain why insulin prices are so high.  The answer? It's the other guy's fault.

The drugmakers said they have to keep list prices high because of the rebates they pay to PBMs, the drug middlemen who handle claims for big insurers and help negotiate drug prices with manufacturers. PBMs said manufacturers are the only ones responsible for setting a list price.

Executives from the three companies that make insulin, as well as the three largest PBMs, faced sharp questions from frustrated Democrats and Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee.

The hearing was notable in that it was the first time both PBMs and drug companies were testifying together. The manufacturers-- Sanofi, Novo Nordisk, and Eli Lilly-- pointed to patient assistance programs and point-of-sale coupons as proof that almost nobody pays the full list price.

Rep. Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteOvernight Energy: Critics question data behind new Trump water rule | Groups seek more time to comment on Trump environmental rollback | EPA under scrutiny over backlog of toxic waste cleanups Democrats demand plan as EPA hits largest backlog of toxic waste cleanups in 15 years Overnight Energy: Trump issues rule replacing Obama-era waterway protections | Pelosi slams new rule as 'an outrageous assault' | Trump water policy exposes sharp divides MORE (D-Colo.), the committee's chairwoman, said she is confident that any legislation will be bipartisan. Insulin pricing is a bipartisan issue, so finding common ground on a fix could be low hanging fruit for lawmakers.

But it was not clear during the hearing what that bill might be; neither the witnesses nor lawmakers brought up any tangible, realistic policies.  

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Grassley says talks have started on drug pricing bill

Now that the Senate Finance Committee has finished likely its final hearing on drug pricing, where does the effort stand?

Asked if he had started writing legislation on drug pricing with Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenTax season could bring more refund confusion Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Wyden asks NSA to investigate White House cybersecurity | Commerce withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon objects | Warren calls on Brazil to drop Greenwald charges Wyden vows push to force release of Khashoggi assessment MORE (Ore.), the panel's top Democrat, Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Energy: Democrats unveil draft climate bill | Plan aims for carbon neutrality by 2050 | GOP senators press IRS on electric vehicle tax credit GOP senator: John Bolton should go public with what he knows GOP senators press IRS on enforcement of electric vehicle tax credit MORE (R-Iowa) said only that "at this point nothing more than starting discussions on that."

He said the discussions started about a month ago. He later added that he hopes to have a bill by June or July or else it will be hard to get the measure done this year. And he noted that his panel's measure could be packaged together with an effort on lowering health care costs being worked on by Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderGOP confident of win on witnesses Republicans signal renewed confidence they'll avoid witness fight The Hill's Morning Report - Bolton charge ups ante in witness showdown MORE (R-Tenn.).

 

CDC says nearly 600 cases of deadly drug-resistant fungus reported

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed hundreds of cases of a deadly multi-drug resistant fungus nationwide.

The CDC has confirmed 587 cases of the fungus, Candida auris, in 12 states over the past few years, most of them in Chicago, New Jersey and the New York City area. The fungus is a yeast infection with a one-in-three mortality rate in cases where the infection reaches the heart, blood or brain, according to the CDC.

The disease, which is transmitted through medical facilities, was first discovered in 2009 in Japan, and was first reported in the United States after mid-2015, according to UPI.

Good luck finding out which hospitals these infections are spreading at. The New York Times reported last week that the CDC is barred from publicly identifying hospitals that are battling to contain the spread of dangerous pathogens.

Read more here.

 

In court news:

 

DOJ appeals Medicaid work requirement ruling

The Trump administration officially filed a notice to appeal a federal judge's decision to strike down Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky. The case will go before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

In Arkansas, about 18,000 people have lost coverage because of the new requirements. The Kentucky requirements have not gone into effect yet. The ruling was the second time the same judge rejected the Kentucky program and sent it back to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for changes.

 

ObamaCare lawsuit appeal will be heard this summer

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday granted a motion to expedite the hearing in the Texas ObamaCare lawsuit. The motion did not specify a hearing date, but according to the court schedule, it will be argued sometime between July 9 and July 12.

Refresher: A federal judge in December sided with a group of Republican states that the entire Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. The Trump administration recently said it supports the ruling.  

 

SPONSORED CONTENT - PHARMACEUTICAL CARE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION

PBMs serve as the check against drugmakers' pricing strategies by negotiating for consumers and clients to ensure prescription drugs are affordable. Learn how PBMs advocate for patients and payers at OnYourRxSide.org.

 

What we're reading

'He calls me, I call him': Alex Azar on his relationship with President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Don Lemon explains handling of segment after Trump criticism NPR reporter after Pompeo clash: Journalists don't interview government officials to score 'political points' Lawyer says Parnas can't attend Senate trial due to ankle bracelet MORE, drug pricing, and winning over skeptical conservatives (Stat News)

ObamaCare gains unlikely allies in conservative lawyers (Bloomberg Law)

Would 'Medicare for all' save billions or cost billions? (The New York Times)

 

State by state

Panel endorses bill curbing vaccine exemptions for Maine schoolchildren (Press Herald)

Heartbeat abortion bill now up to Ohio Gov. DeWine (Dayton Daily News)

 

From The Hill's opinion page:

The antibiotic market is broken and won't fix itself

Pediatricians need to protect children from gun violence