Overnight Health Care: Social Security won't be able to fund full payouts by 2035 | Drug companies under scrutiny from Congress boost lobbying | US on pace to break record for measles cases

Overnight Health Care: Social Security won't be able to fund full payouts by 2035 | Drug companies under scrutiny from Congress boost lobbying | US on pace to break record for measles cases
© Getty Images

Welcome to Monday's Overnight Health Care. Congress is in recess for a second week, but we did get the Medicare and Social Security trustees report!

We'll start with that, followed by new data on health care lobbying spending, and worries about the rising number of measles cases:


Social Security won't be able to fund full payouts by 2035

The new trustees report on Medicare and Social Security kicked off a round of warnings and finger-pointing in Washington on Monday.

On Social Security: The Social Security retirement program will be unable to pay full benefits by 2035.


Without reforms, the report says, payments to beneficiaries would have to be cut by 25 percent starting in 2035 to keep the program solvent.

The report said the program's roughly $3 trillion in reserves will be depleted by 2035.

On Medicare: The trust fund for Medicare that pays for hospital care will run out of money by 2026, an unchanged prediction from last year's report.

Medicare's overall costs are expected to rise to 5.9 percent of the gross domestic product by 2038, up from 3.7 percent in 2018.

How it played politically: Republicans used the report to warn about "Medicare for All.' One of their key points has been arguing that Medicare for All would harm the program for current seniors.

"Instead of trying to expand Medicare into a universal entitlement that even covers wealthy Americans of working age, as some have proposed, we need to fulfill Medicare's promise to our seniors," Health Secretary Alex Azar said.

Democratic Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealDemocrats push judge for quick action on Trump tax returns lawsuit Trump argues NY tax return case should take place in DC NY files motion to keep Trump tax returns lawsuit out of DC court MORE (Mass.), the Ways and Means Chairman, said "we continue to see how the Medicare trust fund has not recovered from years of Republicans' harmful policies."

Read more here.


Drug companies under scrutiny boost spending on lobbying

AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb, two prominent drug manufacturers, significantly increased their lobbying expenditures in the face of fresh scrutiny from Congress.

The companies were two of the seven that had representatives hauled before the Senate Finance Committee in February to explain high prescription drug prices.

AstraZeneca spent more than $1 million on lobbying in the first three months of 2019, compared to the $600,000 it spend during the same time period last year.

Bristol-Myers Squibb spent $1.2 million between January and March of this year, up from the $600,000 it spend during the same time last year.

Johnson & Johnson, which also testified before the hearing in February, slightly increased its spending on lobbying this year to $1.4 million.

Why it matters: Drug companies are feeling the heat as Congress and the Trump administration look for ways to bring down drug costs. While many of the proposals that Democrats want to pass (like Medicare price negotiation) won't happen this Congress, there is some room for bipartisan action.  A bipartisan bill meant to crack down on tactics branded drug companies use to delay competition with generic drug manufacturers is expected to move this year.

But drug companies are likely most worried about a proposal the Trump administration is working on that would tie what Medicare pays for drugs to what other industrialized countries pay. The U.S. often pays far more than other countries, like Canada and the U.K., for the same drugs.

More on the lobbying numbers here.


US will soon break record for measles cases in a year

The U.S. will soon break the record for the number of confirmed measles cases this year.

As of April 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified 626 cases of measles in 22 states across the country, an increase of 71 cases and two additional states in the past week.

That's the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. in the last five years, and the second highest number since measles was eliminated in 2000. The worst year for measles since then was 2014, when there were 667 cases.

Implications: The rising number of measles cases is drawing scrutiny to "anti-vaxxers" who refuse to vaccinate their children, against health officials' recommendations.

New York has responded by ordering mandatory vaccinations.

Read more here.


What we're reading

No one knows what Joe BidenJoe BidenGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Moulton says Biden would make 'fantastic president' MORE thinks about health care (Vox.com)

Hospitals stand to lose billions under 'Medicare for All' (New York Times)  


State by state

Texas removes thousands of children from Medicaid each month due to red tape, records show (Texas Tribune)

Ohio attorney general wants to reform drug-pricing middlemen (Toledo Blade)


From The Hill's op-ed page

Trump's gag rule jeopardizes preventative care for women