Overnight Healthcare

Overnight Health Care: Anti-abortion Democrats take heat from party | More states sue Purdue over opioid epidemic | 1 in 4 in poll say high costs led them to skip medical care

Welcome to Monday’s Overnight Health Care.

Democrats are distancing themselves from the anti-abortion members of their own party, a new poll shows high costs are causing Americans to skip medical care, and Nikki Haley is headlining the Susan B. Anthony gala tonight.

We’ll start with the pressure on anti-abortion Democrats…


Anti-abortion Democrats take heat from party

Democrats are distancing themselves from the anti-abortion members of their party as a rash of governors sign laws putting new restrictions on the procedure.

{mosads}While some party officials have avoided imposing a litmus test on candidates to support abortion rights, the raging debate has raised questions about whether there is room in the party for the few remaining anti-abortion Democrats like Rep. Dan Lipinski (Ill.) and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Context: Democrats laid into Edwards for signing a six-week abortion ban into law last week. That makes Louisiana the sixth state to pass the “heartbeat” abortion ban this year, but Edwards is the first Democratic governor to approve it.

Lipinski is facing a tough primary challenge from Marie Newman, who has made abortion rights — and Lipinski’s opposition to it — the centerpiece of her campaign. DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos (Ill.) recently pulled out of a fundraiser for Lipinski, and two Democratic presidential candidates have already backed his challenger, with more likely to come.

Why this matters: Over the years, “pro-life” Democratic politicians have become increasingly rare. In 1978, there were 125 House Democrats who opposed abortion rights. Now there are four.

Read more here.


Poll: 1 in 4 Americans say costs led to skipping medical care

Why are lawmakers talking about health care costs so much? Because a lot of Americans say the issue is a problem for them.

That’s borne out in a new Monmouth University Poll, which found:

  • 27 percent of adults say they or a member of their household have avoided necessary medical care in the past two years because of cost.
  • 45 percent of adults say it is difficult to pay their deductibles and other out-of-pocket health care expenses.
  • 20 percent of adults say they have thought about getting a new job or starting a business in the past 10 years but did not pursue it because of the need to maintain their health coverage.

Political context: High health care costs has been a major driver of the debate over “Medicare for All,” with proponents saying that generous government-run insurance is needed to make health care affordable for more people. Opponents, though, argue there are other, more market-based ways to bring down health costs while building on the current system.

On a more bipartisan front, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) are currently working on a package aimed at lowering health care costs, including protecting patients from surprise medical bills that they get when a doctor is outside their insurance network.

Read more on the poll here.


Outside group knocks McConnell over health care in TV ad

There’s a new TV ad attacking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on health care.

The Ditch Mitch Fund, a group focused on trying to unseat McConnell in 2020, is running the five-figure TV ad in Louisville, Ky., and Lexington, Ky., as well as going up with a statewide digital buy in the Bluegrass State.

The ad includes a man and younger woman playing audio of McConnell’s criticism of the Affordable Care Act, the signature health care law from the Obama administration.

“I think the sooner we can get rid of ObamaCare, the better,” McConnell is heard saying in the ad, before the man responds that, “the sooner we can get rid of Mitch McConnell, the better.”

The politics: Health care was a major factor in Democrats winning back the House last year, and the party will be looking to replicate that success next year. But using that message in suburban House districts is far different than in the red state of Kentucky.

Read more here.


Tonight: Nikki Haley to keynote anti-abortion group’s fundraiser

Haley, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, will criticize abortion-rights activists who she says are demanding “conformity,” according to Axios.

“Unfortunately, many on the left use the abortion debate to divide women and demand conformity,” she is expected to say at the fundraiser.

“They do this in the name of feminism. But that is not real feminism.”

The details: The Susan B. Anthony List Campaign for Life Gala will begin at 7:30 ET and can be livestreamed here. Former Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) will also give remarks, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will accept the organization’s “Distinguished Leader Award.”

More on the event and Haley here.


More states sue Purdue over opioid epidemic

California, Maine, Hawaii, the District of Columbia each filed individual lawsuits Monday against Purdue Pharmaceuticals.

The suits claim Purdue marketed OxyContin as a safe and non-addictive treatment for chronic, non-cancer pain, despite the fact that Purdue and its former president, Richard Sackler, knew that oxycodone-containing drugs like OxyContin were among the most abused opioids in the United States.

Opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths nationwide in 2015, and opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999. In 2017 alone there were 2,196 opioid-related overdose deaths in California, according to the state’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D).

“Purdue’s deliberate and deceptive marketing and sale of these drugs sacrificed the wellbeing of Californians for billions of dollars in profits and fueled an unprecedented national public health crisis. We will continue to hold accountable those who put profits over people,” Becerra said in a statement.

Purdue is facing lawsuits from more than 40 states and about 2,000 local and tribal governments. The company recently settled with Oklahoma for $270 million, and is considering all options for the other cases, including bankruptcy.

The company has long denied the various allegations against it.

“The lawsuits contain allegations, not proven facts,” the company said in a statement on a website devoted entirely to the opioid epidemic and the lawsuits. “Purdue will continue to defend itself vigorously against any misleading and inflammatory claims. The responsibility for this crisis cannot, as a matter of law, be tied to one company that manufactures a small fraction of the prescription opioids in the United States.”


Azar’s chief of staff leaving HHS

Peter Urbanowicz, the chief of staff for Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, will leave the department in June to move to his home in Texas.

Urbanowicz had been with HHS for a year and a half, primarily working on drug pricing, value-based care and rural health care.

He will be replaced by Brian Harrison, Azar’s deputy chief of staff.


The Hill event:

On Tuesday, June 25th, The Hill will host Cost, Quality and Care: The Medicare Equation at the Newseum in Washington, DC. The Hill’s Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons and Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack will sit down with Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and an expert panel for a discussion on how leaders in Washington and the health industry can bring down drug costs for Medicare patients while continuing to ensure quality of care for those who depend on the program. RSVP here.


What we’re reading

ACA linked to reduced racial disparities, earlier diagnosis and treatment in cancer care (The Washington Post)

GOP blew ObamaCare repeal, not us, former CBO director says (Roll Call)

2 Chinese babies with edited genes may face higher risk of premature death (NPR)

Churches wipe out millions in medical debt for others (Kaiser Health News)


State by state

Maine Attorney General sues pharmaceutical company over opioid crisis (Portland Press Herald)

Fentanyl maker donates big to campaign opposing pot legalization in Arizona (US News)

Georgia Gov. Kemp’s office selects consultant to craft health care ‘waiver’ (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Tags Bob Cusack Brett Guthrie Cheri Bustos Diane Black Doris Matsui Lamar Alexander Mitch McConnell Nikki Haley Patty Murray Xavier Becerra

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