Overnight Healthcare

Overnight Health Care: Oversight chair plans to call drug executives to testify on costs | Biden airs anti-‘Medicare for All’ video | House panel claims Juul deliberately targeted kids

Aaron Schwartz

Welcome to Friday’s Overnight Health Care.

Most of the House has left town for a lengthy recess. But before everything wrapped, there was one final hearing on drug pricing. Joe Biden filmed an anti-Medicare for All video, and a pro-ObamaCare group is launching a nationwide bus tour.

First up…


Cummings plans to call pharma executives to testify about drug costs

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said he plans to call drug company executives to testify when the House returns from recess in September.

Cummings made the announcement at the end of an emotional hearing Friday about the impact of high drug costs on patients.

“I want to tell you, this may make you feel some hope: We’re going to have the drug company folks sitting in the same seats as soon as we come back,” Cummings told witnesses. “And we’re going to try to understand some of why they’re doing what they’re doing.”{mosads}

A committee spokesperson did not have any details on which companies Cummings plans to invite or when the hearing will be scheduled. House lawmakers on Thursday held the chamber’s last votes before a lengthy August recess.  

Witnesses spent the hearing telling lawmakers about their struggles to pay for medicine. At times, lawmakers were in tears listening to patients tell their stories. 

Many lawmakers praised all the witnesses for their stoicism and ability to live their lives in the face of what they said was profound unfairness. There was broad agreement that drug companies shouldn’t make it so their lifesaving products are unaffordable.

“I just want to say … thank you for deciding to just keep living your life each day despite the challenge you face. And my hope is that we will do our job to deserve your respect, that you have earned yourselves,” Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said. 

Read more here


Biden airs anti-Medicare for All video

Ahead of next week’s second Democratic presidential primary debate, Joe Biden is ratcheting up his attacks on Bernie Sanders’s “Medicare for All” proposal. 

In a video posted to the Biden campaign’s Twitter Friday, a Biden supporter says she likes her private health insurance and doesn’t want to lose it. 

“My husband and I worked for over 30 years. I feel we earned that benefit. And that’s why I prefer to keep the Affordable Care Act, rebuild upon it, bring in the private insurance, and move forward.

Biden has framed Medicare for All as a repeal of ObamaCare and highlighted the fact that it would eliminate private insurance. 

But Sanders’s campaign has accused Biden of using “insurance company scare tactics.” 

See the full video here.  


House panel claims Juul deliberately targeted children, teens

In case you missed this last night: a House panel claims Juul deliberately targeted children and teenagers in an effort to become the country’s largest e-cigarette manufacturer.

The company “deployed a sophisticated program to enter schools and convey its messaging directly to teenage children,” the House Oversight and Reform subcommittee claimed.

The remarks were laid out in a memo detailing the results of an investigation launched by the House panel last month. 

The report was spearheaded by Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), chairman of the Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, who launched the investigation into the company’s marketing practices last month.

What they found: In one instance, the investigation found documents showing that Juul operated a division that paid schools at least $10,000 to let Juul representatives have access to students during class, summer school and weekend programs for kids caught vaping in school.  

The intent was to demonstrate that Juul can be an alternative to traditional cigarettes and to demonstrate how Juul is different from Big Tobacco companies.

In another example, the committee found that Juul paid $134,000 to set up a five-week summer camp for 80 children at a Baltimore charter school from grades 3 through 12.

Internal Juul emails showed that company officials said they were aware their strategies to reach kids both in and outside of school were “eerily similar” to those used by large cigarette makers.

Read more on the findings here


Looking ahead to August recess… Protect Our Care launching bus tour

The pro-ObamaCare group Protect Our Care is launching a bus tour over August recess to highlight Republican attacks on the health law, including the GOP-backed lawsuit making its way through the courts. 

“Protect Our Care’s ‘Health Care Emergency Tour’ will make stops in key 2020 battleground districts and states for press events with Members of Congress, local elected officials, health care advocates and storytellers,” the group said. 

Campaign angle: Protect Our Care is targeting Republicans facing competitive reelection races next year. On its target list are GOP Sens. Martha McSally (Ariz.), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Susan Collins (Maine), Thom Tillis (N.C.) and David Perdue (Ga.)


What we’re reading

In the ‘Juul room’: E-cigarettes spawn a form of teen addiction that worries doctors, parents and schools (The Washington Post)

‘Like we were being forced to gamble with our son’s life’: Health insurers won’t pay for a $2.1 million drug for kids, and parents say they’re running out of time (Business Insider)

They may owe nothing — half-million-dollar dialysis bill canceled (Kaiser Health News)

McKinsey advised Johnson & Johnson on increasing opioid sales (The New York Times)


State by state

HHS auditor may call on Florida Medicaid to repay $436M (Politico)

Governors weigh health plans as they await court ruling (AP

Fewer women are getting abortions in South Dakota, but hundreds go out-of-state (Argus Leader)

Tags Bernie Sanders Cory Gardner Elijah Cummings Joe Biden Joni Ernst Martha McSally Peter Welch Raja Krishnamoorthi Susan Collins Thom Tillis

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