Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Judge upholds Trump expansion of non-ObamaCare plans | Williamson says she believes in vaccines | House committee to hold oversight hearing on Juul

Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Judge upholds Trump expansion of non-ObamaCare plans | Williamson says she believes in vaccines | House committee to hold oversight hearing on Juul
© Aaron Schwartz

Welcome to Friday's Overnight Health Care.

A federal judge tossed a lawsuit against Trump's expansion of short-term insurance plans, and Marianne WilliamsonMarianne WilliamsonDemocrats: The road to kumbaya The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump, Pelosi take the gloves off; DNC wants Iowa recanvass Iowa and New Hampshire haters should think twice MORE explained her past comments on vaccines. And e-cigarette giant can expect more scrutiny from House lawmakers.

We'll start in the courts...



Federal judge upholds Trump's expansion of non-ObamaCare plans

A federal judge on Friday upheld the Trump administration's expansion of health insurance plans that don't meet ObamaCare's coverage requirements. 

Judge Richard Leon, a George W. Bush appointee on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, ruled against the insurance companies that sued the administration in an attempt to block the rules. 

"Not only is any potential negative impact from the 2018 rule minimal, but its benefits are undeniable," Leon wrote about the regulations. 

The plans aim to "minimize the harm and expense" for individuals who might otherwise decide not to purchase insurance because of high premiums, Leon added. 

The Trump administration issued a regulation last year allowing short-term health care plans to last up to 12 months instead of three. These plans were originally intended as an option for individuals who need to bridge a gap in health insurance coverage. 


But the administration extended the length of time they can be sold to provide customers with more affordable options. 

The other side: Insurers who sell ObamaCare-compliant plans argue they are in an unfair competition with companies that sell short-term plans. Those plans cost less because they don't have to cover all of the services required by ObamaCare, like maternity care and prescription drugs. They can also deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Insurers argue these plans draw away healthy, young customers who may not feel like they need comprehensive insurance. 

But Leon wrote in his ruling that the plaintiffs were unable to prove that the changes actually impacted their enrollment in 2019.
The Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP), the plaintiff in the case, said in a statement that it would appeal the decision. 

Context: It's a win for the Trump administration, which is looking for regulatory ways to weaken ObamaCare after Congress failed to repeat it in 2017. But it's also lost cases on other health policy priorities: its Medicaid work requirements and association health plans, which allowed small businesses to band together to buy insurance for their employees, were both blocked by federal judges.

From Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar: "Today's court decision is a clear victory for American patients who saw their costs rise and choices disappear under the Affordable Care Act." 

Read more on the ruling and fallout here. 



Williamson says she believes in vaccines, acknowledges 'self-inflicted wound'

Marianne Williamson is trying to overcome the controversy over her past statements on vaccines. 

"I'm pro-vaccine. Pro-medicine," Williamson, a self-help author, told The Hollywood Reporter

Williamson was challenged last month in a contentious interview on "The View" over her previous statements calling vaccine mandates "draconian" and "Orwellian."

"My sloppiness in talking about that was a self-inflicted wound," Williamson said. 


Williamson has been trying to walk back her skeptical statements about vaccines, which are widely affirmed by public health experts as being safe and necessary, though she still said in Friday's interview that there could be questions about them.

Read more here


Coming next week...


Medicaid work requirements are back in court

A federal judge on Tuesday will hear oral arguments in the latest lawsuit over the Trump administration's policy of Medicaid work requirements. This most recent lawsuit comes from residents of New Hampshire. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington, an Obama appointee and the same judge who twice blocked implementation of Kentucky's and Arkansas' work requirements.


Last week, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) delayed enforcement of the state's work requirements until October 1, in the face of fears of massive coverage losses. 


House Oversight Committee to hold hearing on Juul

The House Oversight and Government Reform Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee hearing for Wednesday has not been formally announced yet, but it is posted online. The hearing is titled "Examining Juul's Role in the Youth Nicotine Epidemic" and will take place over two days.

Last month, subcommittee Chairman Raja KrishnamoorthiSubramanian (Raja) Raja KrishnamoorthiHillicon Valley: Barr threatens tech's prized legal shield | House panel seeks information from Amazon's Ring | Trump DOJ backs Oracle in Supreme Court fight against Google | TikTok unveils new safety controls House subcommittee requests information from Ring about cooperation with police, local governments Lawmakers with first-hand experience using food stamps call on Trump not to cut program MORE (D-Ill.) launched an investigation into whether Juul has actively marketed its product to children. He asked for a trove of internal documents related to its marketing practices.  Juul said it will cooperate, so we're keeping an eye on whether Juul Labs CEO Kevin Burns will be called to testify. 


Other events: 


CMS Administrator Seema Verma will speak at the Better Medicare Alliance 2019 Medicare Advantage Summit Monday at 10 a.m. HHS Secretary Alex Azar will speak at the same conference on Tuesday morning. 

The House Appropriations Labor-HHS subcommittee will hold a hearing Wednesday at 9 a.m. on the embattled unaccompanied children program. Witnesses include Lynn Johnson, the assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families, and Jonathan Hayes, director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. 


ICYMI last night: Illinois eschews Title X funds over abortion referral ban 

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced Thursday that the state will no longer accept federal family planning grants because of a new ban on abortion referrals. 

"While I'm committed to bringing as many federal dollars to the state as possible, I refuse to sacrifice our values and allow vital care to lapse," Pritzker said in a statement.  

"In this state, we trust women to make their own health care decisions and will guarantee access to reproductive health care for all of our residents."

Planned Parenthood and the Maine Family Planning Association also said they would stop participating in the program. 



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The Hill event

Policy Prescriptions: Lowering Drug Prices

For many Americans, rising prescription drug prices are taking a toll not only on their wallets, but also their health. On Thursday, July 25th, The Hill will sit down with Sens. Mike BraunMichael BraunOvernight Health Care: Ernst endorses bipartisan bill to lower drug prices | US partnering with drugmakers on coronavirus vaccine | UN chief says virus poses 'enormous' risks Senators, bruised by impeachment, hunt for deals Plan to probe Bidens sparks GOP divisions MORE (R-Ind.) and Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinOvernight Health Care: Appeals court strikes down Medicaid work requirements | Pelosi's staff huddles with aides on surprise billing | Senate Dems pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit Senate Democrats pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit Democratic senators press Amazon over injury rates MORE (D-Wis.) for conversations examining how to lower drug prices for patients while ensuring they have access to life-saving medications. RSVP today


What we're reading:

Health insurers make it easy for scammers to steal millions. Who pays? You. (Pro Publica)

Juul hires leading teen addiction researcher as medical director (Kaiser Health News)

UnitedHealth reverses denials and will cover expensive gene therapy for kids (The Washington Post)

Has your doctor asked you about climate change? (California Healthline)


State by state: 

Senate Republicans unite against governor, say budget is 'hostage' to Medicaid expansion (The News & Observer)

Medicaid expansion big issue for gubernatorial candidates but not for Mississippi voters (Mississippi Today)

Iowa judge dismisses lawsuit on Medicaid funding for transgender-related surgeries (Iowa Public Radio)

Michigan health chief: Medicaid work rules will drive up uncompensated care, cost lives (Crain's Detroit Business)