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 TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' 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 BarrUkrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Will Democrats be up to the task of publicly interviewing Mueller? A question for Robert Mueller 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 DeSantisFlorida public schools will be required to provide mental health education for students To win over Midwesterners, Democrats should rethink school choice stance DeSantis wants statue of civil rights activist to replace Confederate figure on Capitol Hill MORE (R), Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' Matt Gaetz hints prosecutor won't press charges against threatening caller for political reasons 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.


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 GrahamThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Democrats should rise above and unify against Trump's tweets US-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' 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 KavanaughMcConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch Lindsey Graham's Faustian bargain Liberal, conservative Supreme Court justices unite in praising Stevens 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 CollinsPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp Trump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report MORE and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Dems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand 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