Overnight Health Care — Presented by Campaign for Accountability — House lawmakers offer measure on surprise medical bills | Top Dems press DOJ on ObamaCare document requests | Pennsylvania AG sues Purdue Pharma over opioid epidemic

Overnight Health Care — Presented by Campaign for Accountability — House lawmakers offer measure on surprise medical bills | Top Dems press DOJ on ObamaCare document requests | Pennsylvania AG sues Purdue Pharma over opioid epidemic
© iStock

Welcome to Tuesday's Overnight Health Care.

Bipartisan leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have draft legislation on surprise medical bills, House Democrats want answers from the administration on the ObamaCare lawsuit, and another state is suing Purdue Pharma.

We'll start with surprise billing...

 

Pallone, Walden release legislation to end surprise medical bills

Bipartisanship alert!

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneLawmakers set to host fundraisers focused on Nats' World Series trip CBO: Pelosi bill to lower drug prices saves Medicare 5 billion Trump official declines to testify on trade protections for tech platforms MORE (D-N.J.) and Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenTop Republican rejects Democratic chairman's approach to stopping surprise medical bills Lawmakers hit Trump administration for including tech legal shield in trade negotiations CBO: Pelosi bill to lower drug prices saves Medicare 5 billion MORE (R-Ore.), the panel's top Republican, on Tuesday released draft legislation to end surprise medical bills.

Momentum growing: In addition to the Pallone-Walden bill, President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi arrives in Jordan with bipartisan congressional delegation Trump says his Doral resort will no longer host G-7 after backlash CNN's Anderson Cooper mocks WH press secretary over Fox News interview MORE also called for action on the issue last week, and the Senate is working on a bipartisan plan.

What's in the House bill?: The measure protects patients from getting massive bills when they get emergency care from a doctor who is outside of their insurance network, with the idea being that, in an emergency, patients should not be expected to ask doctors giving them care whether they are in-network or not.

What to watch: Sens. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyUN Security Council to meet after Turkey launches Syria offensive Trump faces growing GOP revolt on Syria To win the federal paid family leave debate, allow states to lead the way MORE (R-La.), Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanHillicon Valley: GOP lawmakers offer election security measure | FTC Dem worries government is 'captured' by Big Tech | Lawmakers condemn Apple over Hong Kong censorship Sen. Hassan calls for look into federal government support for entities hit by ransomware attacks Hillicon Valley: Senate passes bill to boost cyber help for agencies, businesses | Watchdog warns Energy Department failing to protect grid | FTC sues Match for allegedly conning users MORE (D-N.H.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetSenate Democrats want Warren to talk costs on 'Medicare for All' The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden camp faces new challenges Bennet reintroduces bill to ban lawmakers from becoming lobbyists MORE (D-Colo.) are expected to release their own plan soon. Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderGOP braces for impeachment brawl McConnell tightlipped as impeachment furor grows GOP senator: 'Inappropriate' to discuss opponents, but impeachment a 'mistake' MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDemocrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules Biz groups say Warren labor plan would be disaster Freedom of the press under fire in Colorado MORE (D-Wash.), the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Health Committee, are also in talks about including surprise medical billing legislation in the larger package they are negotiating on lowering health care costs. 

Provider opposition: The draft bill is not what doctors or hospitals want. It does not rely on independent arbitration to determine payment rates. Instead, it bases the payment on the usual in-network rates in that geographic area. Providers and insurers are heading towards a showdown, and legislation hasn't even been introduced. It's also not clear that the Cassidy/Hassan and Alexander/Murray bills will be similar, so watch for clashes between the groups of lawmakers (perhaps as a proxy for the differences between industry interests) if and when the bills emerge.   

Read more on the legislation here.

 

 

Top Dems threaten Trump officials with 'alternative means of obtaining compliance' on ObamaCare documents

Top Democratic lawmakers are escalating a standoff with the White House over the administration's decision not to defend the Affordable Care Act in court.

Several committee chairmen, led by Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBaltimore mayor looks to rename downtown courthouse after Cummings Cummings to lie in state at the Capitol Gowdy remembers political opponent, good friend Elijah Cummings MORE (D-Md.), have warned the attorney general and White House counsel that they will seek "alternative" measures of obtaining documents related to the Trump administration's decision to not defend ObamaCare in court if the two top Trump officials do not comply with their requests.

The Democrats said they will "consider alternative means of obtaining compliance" if they don't get responses by May 24. It is not clear what actions the House Democrats might take, but in separate conflicts with the White House over documents and testimony the House Oversight and Reform Committee has issued subpoenas.

Why it matters: Much of the attention has been focused on the Mueller report and the fight over Trump's tax returns, but Cummings is still investigating the administration's decision not to defend ObamaCare in court. The White House has stonewalled other investigations, so it's not clear if--or why-- they would choose to cooperate with this one. 

Read more on the fight here.

 

Pennsylvania attorney general sues Purdue Pharma over opioid epidemic

Pennsylvania on Tuesday became the latest state to file a lawsuit against OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma, accusing the drugmaker of fueling the opioid epidemic.

The lawsuit announced by Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) says the company made more sales visits in Pennsylvania than any other state except California. The Connecticut-based firm has sold more than 2.9 million opioid prescriptions in Pennsylvania since May 2007, according to Shapiro.

"Purdue accomplished these massive sales in part by directing its highly trained and highly incentivized in-state opioid sales force to make more than half a million sales calls on Pennsylvania prescribers since 2007," the lawsuit reads.

There are thousands of ongoing lawsuits from states, tribes, counties, hospitals against the major players in the opioid epidemic, including Purdue.

The backstory: Purdue is widely blamed for helping to start the opioid epidemic after it introduced OxyContin to the market in 1996 and is facing a host of lawsuits for allegedly convincing doctors to overprescribe the powerful narcotic. Purdue has denied the allegations contained in the lawsuits and is mounting a vigorous defense.

As the lawsuits have mounted, Purdue has threatened to declare bankruptcy.

In March, Purdue and Oklahoma agreed to a $270 million settlement in a lawsuit over claims that the illegal marketing of OxyContin helped lead to the opioid crisis.

Read more here.

 

Twitter has launched a new tool to combat vaccine misinformation

When Twitter users search "vaccines" or related terms, they will now receive a message with a link to the Department of Health and Human Services's (HHS) website about vaccines.

"To make sure you get the best information on vaccinations, resources are available from the US Department of Health & Human Services," the pop-up says with a link to vaccines.gov and the HHS Twitter handle.

Twitter and other social media websites have been criticized by public health experts for not doing enough about the spread of vaccine misinformation online.

Why it matters: The CDC has confirmed 839 measles cases across 23 states.  The current outbreak is still the largest since the disease was declared eliminated in 2000. Health officials have partially blamed the outbreaks on a seemingly uncontrollable spread of misinformation about vaccine safety on the internet.

Read more here.

 

SPONSORED CONTENT - CAMPAIGN FOR ACCOUNTABILITY 

The Trump administration is quietly giving away millions of dollars intended for family planning services to a religious organization that refuses to provide contraception. Learn more.

 

What we're reading

Wary of Medicare for All, Democrats seek easier paths to universal coverage (Los Angeles Times)

Anti-abortion advocates come out against Medicare for All (Washington Examiner)

Fact checker: Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisKamala Harris reacts to supporter who got tattoo of her handwriting Even with likely Trump impeachment, Democrats face uphill climb to win presidency Harris campaign releases web video highlighting opposition to death penalty MORE's claim that Medicare-for-All 'doesn't get rid of all insurance' (The Washington Post)

A new study sparks a war of words over the drug industry's commitment to research (Stat)

 

State by state

Florida Medicaid expansion plan tops 63,000 signatures (Fox 35)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan faces pressure on bills about drug prices (Baltimore Sun)

Opponents dubious of science, but 'abortion reversal' bill to surface at Ohio Statehouse (Columbus Dispatch)