Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — Appeals court appears skeptical of upholding ObamaCare mandate | Drug pricing deal faces GOP pushback | Trump officials look for plan B after court strikes drug TV ad rule

Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — Appeals court appears skeptical of upholding ObamaCare mandate | Drug pricing deal faces GOP pushback | Trump officials look for plan B after court strikes drug TV ad rule
© Aaron Schwartz

Welcome to Tuesday's Overnight Health Care. 

Today was ObamaCare's latest day in court. GOP senators are raising concerns over what could be a bipartisan drug pricing deal, and the Trump administration is looking for a way forward after a federal judge blocked a drug pricing rule. 

We'll start with ObamaCare: 

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Court appears uncertain on overturning ObamaCare

A federal appeals court on Tuesday hinted that they would strike down ObamaCare's individual mandate as unconstitutional, but the three-judge panel was not as clear about whether they would overturn the entire law.

Two Republican-appointed judges on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals grilled attorneys representing Democratic attorneys general about whether Congress intended to invalidate the entire law when lawmakers eliminated the penalty for the individual mandate. 

The issue is whether the mandate can be separated from the rest of the law, which extends far beyond just health insurance. 

"If you no longer have the tax why isn't [the mandate] unconstitutional?" said Jennifer Elrod, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush.

California deputy attorney general Samuel Siegel argued that Congress did not want the Affordable Care Act to fall when it eliminated out the individual mandate penalty as part of the 2017 tax law. 

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"Members of Congress who voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act said they were not repealing the ACA," said a spokesperson for California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraStates sue Trump administration at record pace California has a privacy law, but will companies comply? Judge approves merger between T-Mobile, Sprint MORE, which is leading a coalition of blue states in defending the law.

Also at issue: The lead litigator for the individual plaintiffs in the case said he expects the judges to uphold the lower court's ruling and also strike the Democratic states and the House of Representatives from the case. 

(Remember, the court questioned last week whether the states and the House have legal standing to appeal the lower court's ruling.) 

"The trial court ruled in our favor, and it did not seem that the Fifth Circuit panel really had much disagreement with that," said Robert Henneke. 

"I expect after today's arguments the Fifth Circuit will uphold the trial court decision and very likely the Fifth Circuit will strike the House of Representatives and California from the case." 

Read more here.

 

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GOP senators raise concerns over potential deal to lower drug prices

A potential bipartisan deal to lower drug prices is running into turbulence from some GOP senators. 

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyErnst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices Overnight Health Care: Nevada union won't endorse before caucuses after 'Medicare for All' scrap | McConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills | CDC confirms 15th US coronavirus case Mnuchin defends Treasury regulations on GOP tax law MORE (R-Iowa) held the meeting with GOP committee members to discuss a possible agreement that he has been negotiating for months with Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrats demand Trump administration withdraw religious provider rule Ernst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices Senate Dems blast Barr for 'clear violation' of duty in Stone case, urge him to resign MORE (Ore.), the top Democrat on the panel.

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But pushback from some in the GOP may pose an obstacle to a final breakthrough.

The sticking point: An idea pushed by Wyden that would limit the ability of drug companies to raise prices faster than inflation in Medicare's prescription drug program, called Part D. Drug companies would have to pay money back to Medicare if their prices rose too quickly.

The question now: Is Grassley willing to push forward with this deal and risk losing some GOP senators? 

Read more here.

 

Trump officials seek plan B on drug pricing rule

The Trump administration suffered a blow when a federal judge blocked a key rule about drug price disclosures just hours before it was scheduled to take effect and officials are now seeking a way forward.

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U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta in Washington, D.C., on Monday sided with a coalition of drug companies and blocked the Trump administration from implementing a policy that would require prescription drug manufacturers to disclose list prices in TV ads. Mehta said the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) does not have the authority to compel drug companies to disclose prices.

Experts don't believe the rule would have been very effective at lowering drug prices, but it was one of Trump's highest-profile initiatives and the first policy released after the administration unveiled its drug pricing "blueprint" in 2018.

It is not immediately clear how the administration will proceed, but the ruling threatens to rob President TrumpDonald John TrumpFed saw risks to US economy fading before coronavirus spread quickened Pro-Trump super PAC hits Biden with new Spanish-language ad in Nevada Britain announces immigration policy barring unskilled migrants MORE of an important victory in the fight over drug costs.

One easy solution: Congress can give permission. Bipartisan legislation introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe Trump commutes sentence of ex-Illinois Gov. Blagojevich in rash of clemency orders The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in MORE (D-Ill.) would codify the HHS regulation into law. The bill could be added to a legislative package that Grassley is trying to push through the committee. A companion bill in the House is sponsored by Rep. Francis RooneyLaurence (Francis) Francis RooneyOvernight Energy: Trump issues rule replacing Obama-era waterway protections | Pelosi slams new rule as 'an outrageous assault' | Trump water policy exposes sharp divides 2 Democrats say they voted against war powers resolution 'because it merely restated existing law' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi plans to send impeachment articles next week MORE (R-Fla.).

The legislation would have the same impact as the rule, which is to say, not much. But it's a politically popular move.

Read more here.

 

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ESPN's Adam Schefter joins push for diabetes research

Celebrities dealing with Type 1 diabetes joined a town hall in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to meet and inspire children who have the same condition.

The event was organized by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), a group dedicated to providing support for those who have Type 1 diabetes as well as raising money and awareness. It featured athletes, actors and artists who spoke about their personal experiences with the disease and the obstacles they overcame.

Sports writer and ESPN analyst Adam Schefter moderated the town hall, which also included children with Type 1 diabetes. Schefter told the young people at the event that it was possible to be successful and manage their diabetes.

"You can still achieve your dreams," he said. 

The town hall is a part of the JDRF Children's Congress, a weeklong event that brings more than 160 children from across the country with Type 1 diabetes to Washington every two years to meet with role models and push lawmakers to fund research.

More from the town hall here.

 

 

What we're reading

Abortion arguments at play in limiting veterans' IVF benefit (Associated Press)

Hundreds of hospice centers in US get failing grades (NBC

Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden leads Sanders by single digits in South Carolina: poll Pro-Trump super PAC hits Biden with new Spanish-language ad in Nevada Biden will go after Bloomberg, Sanders at Las Vegas debate, aides say MORE on ObamaCare and Medicare for All: 'Starting over would be, I think, a sin' (CNN)

 

State by state

With ACA's future in peril, California reins in rising health insurance premiums (California Healthline)

North Carolina uses new federal money to get people into drug treatment, but most of them are white (North Carolina Health News)

 

From The Hill's opinion page

It's time to end the senseless and cruel policy of cannabis criminalization