Overnight Health Care: Trump wants HHS to help Florida with drug imports | Graham calls inaction on drug prices 'unacceptable' | Abortion battles heat up with Kavanaugh on Supreme Court

Overnight Health Care: Trump wants HHS to help Florida with drug imports | Graham calls inaction on drug prices 'unacceptable' | Abortion battles heat up with Kavanaugh on Supreme Court
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Welcome to Tuesday's Overnight Health Care.  

President TrumpDonald John TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit MORE wants HHS to work with Florida on drug importation, a new CDC study says most maternal deaths are preventable, abortion battles are heating up in the states, and a pair of bipartisan senators sent a strongly-worded letter to Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrPelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Five takeaways from Barr's new powers in 'spying' probe Trump declassification move unnerves Democrats MORE about the ObamaCare lawsuit.

We'll start with drug pricing...

 

Trump directs health chief to work on allowing Florida to import cheaper drugs

It sounds like there was a very interesting meeting on drug pricing at the White House on this week.

Trump met with officials including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisDHS official: Florida one of the 'best' states on election security, despite 2016 Russian hack Florida teacher arrested for loaded gun in backpack told reporter: 'Ask DeSantis' Trump officials not sending migrants to Florida after backlash MORE (R), Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzGOP Mueller critic says Flynn contacted him during special counsel probe: report 2020 Dem Seth Moulton calls for expanding cannabis access for veterans Hillicon Valley: Trump takes flak for not joining anti-extremism pact | Phone carriers largely end sharing of location data | Huawei pushes back on ban | Florida lawmakers demand to learn counties hacked by Russians | Feds bust 0M cybercrime group MORE (R-Fla.) at the White House on Monday to discuss the governor's proposal to lower drug prices by importing cheaper drugs from Canada.

Trump expressed his desire for the state to come up with an importation plan that he could approve, Gaetz told The Hill.

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The politics: If Trump follows through, it would be a significant break from the traditional GOP position, which is opposed to drug importation and worries about safety. Drug companies are also fiercely opposed to the idea. We'll see if this can actually happen.

At least one Trump adviser has concerns: Azar, who last year dismissed the idea of drug importation as a "gimmick" that would not work, expressed concerns about the idea in the meeting, according to Gaetz.

Gaetz said that while the president was "mindful" of those concerns, he wanted to go forward with the idea, and cautioned Azar against slowing it down.

Read more here.

 

Graham: Doing nothing on drug prices 'unacceptable'

Many senators in both parties on Tuesday raised objections to drug companies gaming the patent system to keep prices high.

"I expect us to do something on patents and prescription drugs this year," Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump declassification move unnerves Democrats Climate change is a GOP issue, too New Yorker cover titled 'The Shining' shows Graham, McConnell, Barr polishing Trump's shoes MORE (R-S.C.) said at a Judiciary Committee hearing. "I don't know where the sweet spot is but doing nothing is unacceptable."

A warning sign for pharma: Other Republican senators raised concerns too.

Elections coming: There's always a 2020 angle. Graham, Ernst and Cornyn are all up for reelection next year. And high drug prices are a top priority for a lot of voters.

Read more here.

 

Abortion battles heat up with Kavanaugh on Supreme Court

Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughMurkowski celebrates birthday with electric scooter ride Graham urges Trump not to abandon infrastructure talks with Democrats 2020 Dems break political taboos by endorsing litmus tests MORE's confirmation to the Supreme Court has both red states and blue states rushing to pass some of the most aggressive laws in recent history, as each side prepares for coming legal fights that are likely to culminate in a new challenge to Roe v. Wade.

Conservatives have advanced new restrictions that go well beyond constitutional limits set by Kavanaugh's predecessor, former Justice Anthony Kennedy, while liberal states are working on measures to protect abortion access in the event that Roe is overturned

On the conservative side: Already this year, legislators in six states passed laws meant to present a legal challenge to Roe. Six states have passed measures known as "trigger" laws, which would ban abortions in case the Supreme Court strikes down Roe.

On Tuesday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed a "heartbeat" bill that bans virtually all abortions after six weeks. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed a similar measure last month.

On the liberal side: In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly (D) last week vetoed a measure requiring doctors to inform women seeking drug-induced abortions that they can reverse the treatment. Her veto survived by a single vote in the legislature, though Republicans have signaled they will bring another version up for a vote.

The end goal: Most of the measures that have passed in recent weeks generated immediate legal action, as abortion rights advocates moved to block their implementation. Which was exactly what the sponsors were hoping for. Abortion opponents hope that legal challenges make their way through federal courts and, eventually, to the Supreme Court.

Read more here.

 

Collins, Manchin urge Barr to defend ObamaCare in court

The bipartisan duo of Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Biden says Congress must move to protect abortion rights MORE and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Senate panel approves Interior nominee over objections from Democrats MORE is back.

In a letter to Attorney General William Barr, the senators said the Justice Department has a responsibility to uphold the health care law.

"The ACA is quite simply the law of the land, and it is the Administration's and your Department's duty to defend it," Collins and Manchin wrote.

The administration last week filed its official legal argument in a lawsuit brought by a coalition of GOP-led states calling for overturning the law. The case is currently making its way through the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, but legal experts from both parties don't expect it to succeed.

Collins and Manchin said they think the judge's initial decision to strike down the law is "legally flawed."

Read more here.

 

What we're reading

'Unsophisticated' investors are overreacting to Democrats' calls for 'Medicare for All,' warns ex-Aetna CEO (CNBC)

The birth-tissue profiteers (Pro Publica)

'On a knife edge': Ebola outbreak threatens to escalate as violence rises (Stat)

 

State by state

Despite measles outbreak, Texas vaccine exemptions up again (Houston Chronicle)

A plan to cover immigrants would divert public health dollars (California Health Line)

Tennessee moves to block grant Medicaid (Modern Healthcare)

 

From The Hill's opinion page

Trump's comments on late-term abortions are wildly misleading and false