Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Sanders welcomes fight with Trump over 'Medicare for all' | DOJ attorney in ObamaCare case leaving | NYC mayor defends vaccination mandate | Ohio gov signs 'heartbeat' abortion bill

Welcome to Thursday's Overnight Health Care.

The House and Senate have officially left the Capitol for the next two weeks for an extended recess. But in the meantime, Bernie SandersBernie SandersSupport drops for Medicare for All but increases for public option Hillicon Valley: Warren takes on Facebook over political ads | Zuckerberg defends meetings with conservatives | Civil liberties groups sound alarm over online extremism bill On The Money: Trump touts China trade deal | Wall Street, Washington see signs for caution | Trump threatens sanctions on Turkey | Sanders proposes sharp hike to corporate taxes MORE is telling the White House he would relish a fight over Medicare for all, and a top attorney representing the Trump administration in the ObamaCare lawsuit is leaving the Justice Department.

We'll start with Bernie...

 

Sanders campaign to Trump: 'We welcome this fight' on 'Medicare for all'

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is not backing down from the fight over Medicare for all, a day after the White House attacked him for it.

"This campaign's message to Trump is simple: we welcome this fight because we are going to defeat you in the election and guarantee health care as a right to all people," Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir said in a statement.

The takeaway: Health care will be center stage in 2020. Republicans think attacking Medicare for all is a winning message, but Sanders thinks touting it is a good strategy. And many other Democratic candidates are on board with his bill too, including Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisO'Rourke hits back at Buttigieg over criticism of his gun buyback proposal Warren leads Democratic field by 3 points in new national poll Analysis: Warren and Booker most cyber-aware 2020 candidates MORE (D-Calif.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerHillicon Valley: Warren takes on Facebook over political ads | Zuckerberg defends meetings with conservatives | Civil liberties groups sound alarm over online extremism bill O'Rourke hits back at Buttigieg over criticism of his gun buyback proposal Progressives fume at Buttigieg, warn him not to attack Warren at debate MORE (D-N.J.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSupport drops for Medicare for All but increases for public option Hillicon Valley: Warren takes on Facebook over political ads | Zuckerberg defends meetings with conservatives | Civil liberties groups sound alarm over online extremism bill Feehery: Trump may be down, but he's not out yet MORE (D-Mass.), though some of them have also touted more incremental solutions.

"Self-proclaimed socialist Senator Bernie Sanders is proposing 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," the White House said on Wednesday, in response to Sanders introducing his updated bill.

Another health care divide: Democrats have also attacked Trump for backing a lawsuit seeking to overturn ObamaCare.

Trump has countered that he wants to come up with a better plan than the Affordable Care Act. The president has stated that Republicans will be the "party of health care," but has not yet offered any specific.

Read more here on how the fight is heating up.

 

 

Top attorney representing DOJ in Texas ObamaCare case leaving the agency

Brett Shumate, the DOJ's deputy assistant attorney general and a lead attorney in the ObamaCare lawsuit, withdrew from the lawsuit Thursday because he is leaving the agency, he wrote in a court filing.

The U.S. will continue to be represented by another DOJ attorney, he wrote in the filing.

Shumate, a political appointee, had worked at the DOJ for two years, defended some of President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness school deans call for lifting country-specific visa caps Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report MORE's most ambitious policies, including the decision to add a citizenship question to the census.

The DOJ announced last month that it would defend a lower court's ruling that ObamaCare is unconstitutional and should be overturned.

 

Schumer: No 'fig leaf' on drug prices

Asked if he is optimistic Democrats can get a deal with Republicans to lower drug prices this year, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump defends 'crime buster' Giuliani amid reported probe Louisiana voters head to the polls in governor's race as Trump urges GOP support Trump urges Louisiana voters to back GOP in governor's race then 'enjoy the game' MORE (N.Y.) cautioned against a "fig leaf."

"It's high on our agenda, whether we can reach agreement with Republicans... we're not going to pass just a fig leaf that does nothing, it has to be real and it has to really reduce drug prices in a significant way," Schumer told reporters on Thursday. "We would like to do that, if we can get it done in a bipartisan way, great."

His comments come as Sens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP braces for impeachment brawl PhRMA CEO warns Pelosi bill to lower drug prices would be 'devastating' for industry GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe MORE (R-Iowa) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules Bipartisan senators want federal plan for sharing more info on supply chain threats PhRMA CEO warns Pelosi bill to lower drug prices would be 'devastating' for industry MORE (D-Ore.), the top senators on the Senate Finance Committee, have begun discussions on drug pricing legislation.  

 

Dem presses FCC on mental health hotline

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should establish a three-digit hotline for suicide prevention and mental health crises "as soon as possible," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said Wednesday.

"Suicide rates in Oregon and across the country have steadily increased since 2000. From 2000 to 2017, Oregon's suicide rates increased 35 percent," Wyden said in a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. It's clear this public health crisis is not going away, and, to put it in stark terms, the current system of help is nowhere near adequate."

Wyden said Pai had cited progress over the hotline initiative in a December letter. In the letter, Pai said the commission was in the process of implementing the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018, which creates a three-digit code.

More here.

 

Ohio governor signs 'heartbeat' abortion bill

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) on Thursday signed into law one of the country's most stringent abortion restrictions.

The bill bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which doctors say can be as early as five or six weeks into pregnancy.

"The government's role should be protect life from the beginning to the end … the signing of this bill today is consistent with that respect for life," DeWine said at the signing ceremony.

DeWine's approval breaks with his predecessor Gov. John Kasich (R), who vetoed similar bills twice while in office.

What's next: Opponents are already vowing to sue over the restrictions.

More here.

 

NYC mayor defends vaccination mandate

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) vowed Thursday that the city would defeat a lawsuit challenging his order for people in a Brooklyn neighborhood experiencing a measles outbreak to get vaccinated or pay a $1,000 fine.

In an interview with WCBS news radio, the mayor blamed the lawsuit on efforts by anti-vaccination activists to mislead people about the supposed dangers of inoculation.

"We will beat them," de Blasio said.

A majority Hasidic Jewish community in the Williamsburg neighborhood is suing the city over de Blasio's order. The mayor announced the order on Tuesday, declaring a public health emergency in the neighborhood.

More on the controversy here.

 

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What we're reading

Supreme Court may get to decide fate of ObamaCare before 2020 election (CNN.com)

Chuck Grassley: Supreme Court unlikely to overturn ObamaCare, so no need to create replacement (Des Moines Register)

Bernie Sanders's plan to blow up the filibuster and pass Medicare for all explained (Vox.com)

 

State by state

Pharma lobbyists flooded Maryland to block a drug-pricing bill. Opponents pushed back -- and won. (Stat News)

Florida state lawmakers weigh Medicaid work requirements (News Service of Florida)

 

From The Hill's op-ed page

Potential discrimination in NYC's measles public health emergency order