Overnight Health Care: Liberals rip Democratic leaders for writing drug pricing bill in secret | Dems demand answers from company that shelters migrant kids | Measles cases top 1,000

Overnight Health Care: Liberals rip Democratic leaders for writing drug pricing bill in secret | Dems demand answers from company that shelters migrant kids | Measles cases top 1,000
© Greg Nash

Welcome to Thursday's Overnight Health Care.

A pair of Democrats want answers from the company that hired John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, progressives are frustrated with Democratic leaders over the secrecy around their drug pricing bill, and measles cases topped 1,000.

We'll start off with some drug pricing news:

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Liberals rip Democratic leaders for writing drug pricing bill in secret

Lowering drug prices is one of Democrats' top priorities, but that doesn't mean they all agree on how to do it.

In fact, progressive House Democrats are growing increasingly frustrated with their party's leadership, accusing them of writing Democrats' signature bill to lower prescription drug prices in secret and without their input.

Rep. Lloyd DoggettLloyd Alton DoggettGilead sets price for five-day coronavirus treatment at ,120 The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Mark Takano says Congress must extend worker benefits expiring in July; WHO reports record spike in global cases Exclusive investigation on the coronavirus pandemic: Where was Congress? MORE (D-Texas) even compared the process around Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBattle over reopening schools heats up Pelosi: Trump wearing a mask is 'an admission' that it can stop spread of coronavirus Sunday shows - Spotlight shifts to reopening schools MORE's (D-Calif.) drug pricing bill to the secrecy surrounding the GOP's ObamaCare repeal bill in 2017, when Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard Paul'Live with it' is the new GOP response to COVID — but no, we can't do that Koch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads How conservative conspiracy theories are deepening America's political divide MORE (R-Ky.) famously wheeled a photocopier across the Capitol in a dramatized search for the hidden legislation.

The dispute:

  • On process, progressive Democrats say they still haven't seen anything on paper describing the details of Pelosi's plan.
  • On policy, progressives want a bill from Doggett that would strip a company of its monopoly on a drug if the manufacturer refuses to agree to a reasonable price in Medicare negotiations. Pelosi's office is working on a different mechanism, which would empower an outside third party to set the price of a drug if Medicare and the drug company could not come to an agreement.

Why it matters: Lowering drug prices is one of Democrats' top priorities and an issue they campaigned heavily on last year. But they'll have to overcome internal divisions to actually get something passed.

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Read more here.  

 

Over in the Senate... another approach on drug prices

Here's a different approach on lowering drug prices: ask the pharmaceutical lobbying group PhRMA for ideas.

A group of eight Republican senators wrote to pharmaceutical companies asking them what solutions they have for lowering drug prices.

The letter to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America released Thursday, led by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), says the lawmakers are looking for "cooperation" from drug companies as they seek to lower drug prices.

"We write today to ask, as the trade association representing the pharmaceutical industry, what solutions does your association have that would increase transparency and directly lower the list price of drugs for consumers?" the senators write. "What specific plans do you have to address price disparities in the international market? And are you willing to work with us to find real solutions to help the American people?"

The lawmakers: Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyESPN suspends NBA reporter after profane email to Hawley: report Hillicon Valley: Facebook considers political ad ban | Senators raise concerns over civil rights audit | Amazon reverses on telling workers to delete TikTok ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski emails Josh Hawley an F-bomb MORE (R-Mo.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP chairman vows to protect whistleblowers following Vindman retirement over 'bullying' Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad GOP Miami mayor does not commit to voting for Trump MORE (R-Fla.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSenate GOP hedges on attending Trump's convention amid coronavirus uptick Koch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads Romney, Collins, Murkowski won't attend GOP convention MORE (R-Wis.), Mike BraunMichael BraunIndiana attorney general loses reelection bid after groping allegations Clash looms over next coronavirus relief bill Romney, Collins, Murkowski won't attend GOP convention MORE (R-Ind.), Kevin CramerKevin John CramerGOP senators voice confidence over uphill Senate battle GOP skeptical of polling on Trump Senate passes sanctions bill targeting China over Hong Kong law MORE (R-N.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanBottom line US security starts in the Arctic Senate confirms nation's first African American service chief MORE (R-Alaska) signed the letter.

Read more here.

 

Democrats demand answers from migrant children's shelter company that hired John Kelly

At the beginning of May, it was revealed that John Kelly, former White House chief of staff and former Homeland Security secretary, was hired by the company that operates the country's largest shelter for migrant children.

On Thursday, a pair of Democratic lawmakers wrote to the company's CEO demanding answers.

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenIn politics, as in baseball, it ain't over till it's over Trump defends Roger Stone move: He was target of 'Witch Hunt' Democrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' MORE (Mass.) and Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalDemocrats fear US already lost COVID-19 battle Progressive lawmakers call for conditions on Israel aid Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down MORE (Wash.) sent a letter Thursday to the CEO of Caliburn International asking questions ranging from Kelly's compensation to company revenue from operating shelters for unaccompanied migrant children.

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Caliburn International is the parent company of Comprehensive Health Services, which runs the Homestead shelter in Florida and three facilities in Texas.

The lawmakers cited reports that indicate that Comprehensive Health Services could receive more than $340 million in federal contract payments in just six months to operate the Homestead site, which is expanding to hold 3,200 beds for unaccompanied children.

They also noted that under Caliburn's compensation policy, it appears that Kelly stands to make at least $100,000 annually.

"General Kelly ... was at the center of the inhumane and poorly planned immigration policies that put children in cages while separating thousands of families and that benefitted your company," Warren, a 2020 presidential candidate, and Jayapal wrote.

"General Kelly's role in promoting and helping execute these cruel immigration policies remains a stain on his decades of public service. It is outrageous that he now appears to be cashing in on those same policies," they added.

Read more on their letter here.

 

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Measles cases top 1,000 as officials urge vaccinations

The measles epidemic is not easing. The number of measles cases in the U.S. has topped 1,000, and public officials continue to plead with parents to vaccinate their children.

"The 1,000th case of a preventable disease like measles is a troubling reminder of how important that work is to the public health of the nation," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement late Wednesday.

"We cannot say this enough: Vaccines are a safe and highly effective public health tool that can prevent this disease and end the current outbreak. The measles vaccine is among the most-studied medical products we have and is given safely to millions of children and adults each year," Azar said.

Read more here.

 

What we're reading

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Soaring insurance deductibles and high drug prices hit sick Americans with a 'double whammy' (Los Angeles Times)

Opioid prescriptions are declining (Axios)

Biotech's infamous party dropped the topless dancers this year. But there were gladiators (Stat News)

 

State by state

Georgia is cutting off Medicaid for 17,000 elderly, disabled patients (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Abortion legal battles rage on in Missouri and Virginia (ABC News)

Michigan governor signs bill to ban sale of e-cigarettes to minors (WDIV)

 

From The Hill's opinion page:

How Congress can make solid strides in drug pricing reform