Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — GOP senator issues stark warning to Republicans on health care | Rite Aid to stop selling e-cigs | CDC traces E.coli outbreak to ground beef

Welcome to Friday's Overnight Health Care.

We're heading into two weeks of congressional recess, but there won't be any let up on the health news.

A GOP senator is giving his party a warning on health care. And in public health news, the World Health Organization (WHO) declined to name Ebola an international emergency, while in the U.S., the CDC is tracing an E. coli outbreak to ground beef.

We'll start in the Senate and the latest on ObamaCare.


GOP senator issues stark warning to Republicans on health care

GOP Sen. Mike BraunMichael BraunHillicon Valley: Senate Intel report urges action to prevent 2020 Russian meddling | Republicans warn Microsoft of 'urgent' Huawei threat | Court rules FBI surveillance violated Americans' rights GOP senators warn Microsoft of 'urgent' threat from Huawei Senate passes stopgap spending bill, sending it to Trump MORE (Ind.) has a stark warning for Republicans: Come up with a viable alternative to ObamaCare or face another rout in the 2020 election.

Speaking with The Hill at his office in the Senate Russell Building, Braun described the GOP's push to repeal ObamaCare without a plan of their own as one of the primary reasons for the Democratic wave election in 2018.

"What was it, about 55 House seats?" Braun said. Republicans lost 40 seats in the 2018 midterm elections, and Democrats earned a majority in the House for the first time since 2011.

The freshman senator is worried that Republicans are in for a repeat performance in 2020.

"The whole repeal thing hurts our case about what we're going to replace it with. … [Democrats] have owned the issue pretty well because of the void we've created," Braun said.

Braun's saying things you don't hear every day from lawmakers: "We weren't prepared with a comprehensive alternative," Braun said. "We've been apologists for the industry."

Read more here.


WHO declines to designate Ebola outbreak as international emergency

Our colleague, and Ebola expert, Reid Wilson is in Geneva reporting on the latest on the Ebola outbreak:

The World Health Organization declined to declare an international health emergency over a rapidly accelerating outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, even as case counts climb dramatically in several large cities.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that he had accepted the conclusions of an advisory emergency committee, meeting here at WHO's world headquarters, which decided the outbreak had not yet reached the level of international concern.

"Everyone here agrees that we must do everything possible to end this outbreak as soon as possible," Tedros said at a press conference. "The fact that a [public health emergency of international concern] has not been declared makes no difference to our commitment or our ability to fight this outbreak."

Read more here.


Rite Aid will no longer sell e-cigarettes

The latest sign of concern over youth use of e-cigarettes: Rite Aid said it will remove e-cigarettes from its drugstores nationwide, though it will continue selling traditional cigarettes.

The drugstore chain said it will remove all e-cigarettes and vaping products from its shelves over the next 90 days. Company executives said the decision, which was announced during a conference call Thursday, was made due to the increased number of teenagers and children using the products.

The company also said it will begin selling CBD creams, lotions and lip balms in Washington and Oregon.

Split from CVS and Walgreens: Removing vaping products, but not traditional cigarettes, is a different approach than the company's competitors. CVS does not sell any tobacco products, while Walgreens sells both traditional and electronic cigarettes.

Taking flak: Former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the company was not acting out of altruism.

If Rite Aid were worried about a regulatory crackdown, Gottlieb said they would pull traditional cigarettes off the shelves as well, since e-cigarettes are not as unhealthy and dangerous as combustible cigarettes. But cigarettes are more profitable, he noted.

"This was not exactly a profile in courage," Gottlieb said. 

Read more here.


CDC traces E.coli outbreak to ground beef

A new outbreak of E. coli traceable to ground beef has sickened more than 100 people in six states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Friday.

However, the agency said no common supplier, distributor, or brand of ground beef has been identified. Ill people in this outbreak have reported eating ground beef both at home and in restaurants.

Reported illnesses come from Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia. This is now the third largest multi-state E.coli outbreak in the last 20 years.

More on the outbreak here.



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

Trump's health care blundering soothes Democratic infighting (Politico)

'We've done a lot more than you would think': How the health-insurance industry is working to pull Democrats away from Medicare-for-all (The Washington Post)

Brooklyn measles outbreak: How a glossy booklet spread anti-vaccine messages in Orthodox Jewish communities (NBC News)


State by state

Why states want certain Americans to work for Medicaid (The Atlantic)

Iowa House votes to fund $150 million raise promised to Medicaid management firms (Des Moines Register)

Massachusetts coalition argues drug payment caps are best solution to excessive prices (WBUR)