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 SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersElection analyst says Biden could face uphill battle attracting small-dollar donors Gillibrand 'not worried' about being 'discounted' in 2020 race Biden's sloppy launch may cost him 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:

 

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 WarrenColbert links large 2020 Dem field to Avengers: 'A group of every available person in the universe' Seven big decisions facing Biden in 2020 primary Sanders dominates, Buttigieg surges in 2020 social media battle MORE (D-Mass.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandGillibrand 'not worried' about being 'discounted' in 2020 race Cory Booker releases 10 years of tax returns Buttigieg gets first congressional endorsement MORE (D-N.Y.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBooker fundraises off Biden announcement The symbol of 'Wakanda' and black political vision The Hill's Morning Report - Trump tells House investigators 'no' MORE (D-N.J.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe symbol of 'Wakanda' and black political vision Seven big decisions facing Biden in 2020 primary Sanders dominates, Buttigieg surges in 2020 social media battle 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.

"The leading Democratic 2020 presidential candidate has made it clear where Democrats stand on health care: complete chaos," said Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenBipartisan House panel leaders ask agencies for maternal mortality data Congress has questions for Google's 'Sensorvault' Conservative groups defend tech from GOP crackdown MORE (R-Ore.).

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

Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenDems accuse White House of caving to Trump's 'ego' on Russian meddling 2020 Dems back repeal of controversial New Hampshire voting law New Hampshire senator to ask 2020 Dems to back repeal of state residency law 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 FrankenBehar laments Franken resignation to Gillibrand: 'I really miss him now' Winners and losers from first fundraising quarter Election analyst says Gillibrand doesn't have 'horsepower to go the full distance' 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.

 

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 DeGetteBipartisan House panel leaders ask agencies for maternal mortality data Anti-smoking advocates question industry motives for backing higher purchasing age House Democrats probe Trump administration's funding of anti-abortion group 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.  

 

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 WydenCongress can retire the retirement crisis Dems accuse White House of caving to Trump's 'ego' on Russian meddling The difference between good and bad tax reform MORE (Ore.), the panel's top Democrat, Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyCongress can retire the retirement crisis On The Money: Inside the Mueller report | Cain undeterred in push for Fed seat | Analysis finds modest boost to economy from new NAFTA | White House says deal will give auto sector B boost The 7 most interesting nuggets from the Mueller report 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 AlexanderOvernight Health Care: Dem chairs to meet with progressives on drug pricing | Oregon judge says he will block Trump abortion rule | Trump vows to 'smash the grip' of drug addiction | US measles cases hit post-2000 record The Higher Education Act must protect free speech Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 MORE (R-Tenn.).

 

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

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 TrumpForget the spin: Five unrefuted Mueller Report revelations Lara Trump: Merkel admitting migrants 'one of the worst things that ever happened to Germany' Financial satisfaction hits record high: survey 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