Overnight Healthcare

Overnight Health Care: Schumer warns Dems against 'circular firing squad' on health care | Sanders pledges to allow drug imports on first day in office | Ebola outbreak highlights rise in epidemics

Welcome to Thursday's Overnight Health Care.

The Senate wrapped up its last session of the summer and won't be back until September. Overnight Health Care will be here today and tomorrow, and then will transition to a recess schedule, with a weekly newsletter until Congress returns.

Today, Chuck Schumer is warning Democrats about getting too caught up with infighting over health care, Bernie Sanders is promising to allow drug importation on his first day if elected president, and public health officials are struggling to combat global epidemics. 


We'll start with news from Schumer...

Schumer warns Democrats against 'circular firing squad' on health care

Democratic presidential candidates spent a large portion of their debates in Detroit this week sniping at each other over health care. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) doesn't want it to become a habit.

Schumer on Thursday warned Democrats not to become so focused on the internal differences over health care that they lose sight of fighting against President Trump.  

In an interview with SiriusXM's Joe Madison, Schumer cautioned against candidates turning into a "circular firing squad."

"If we get all focused on the differences between, say Bernie [Sanders] and Cory [Booker] and Mayor Pete [Buttigieg] and [John] Hickenlooper, we'll lose sight of the fact that it's Donald Trump who's now trying to reduce health care, destroy health care, get rid of it for everybody," Schumer said.

"That's a trap that we shouldn't fall into. No circular firing squads," he added.

During both nights of the debate, there was only a passing acknowledgement of Trump and his continuing fight to overturn ObamaCare. 

Democrats ran on protecting ObamaCare in the 2018 midterm elections and took control of the House. Senate Democrats are trying to hammer home the message that fighting Trump's "sabotage" of ObamaCare should be the immediate focus.  

Read more on Schumer's comments here


Sanders pledges to allow prescription drug imports on first day in office

Some one-upmanship on drug prices: A day after President Trump made a move on drug importation, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is pledging to go bigger. 

Sanders on Thursday pledged to allow the importation of cheaper prescription drugs from Canada on his first day in office. 

Sanders's move would be more far-reaching than Trump's announcement this week. The Trump administration announced a plan to begin the process of writing rules to eventually allow pilot programs for importing drugs from Canada, the first time the federal government has said it is open to the idea. 

There are still several more steps in the Trump administration's process before importation of cheaper drugs would actually begin, though. 

Bigger picture: The dueling announcements show that lowering drug prices is one of the top issues in the campaign. Trump's rivals do not want to let him propose a bolder plan on a signature issue long associated more with Democrats. 

Read more here.


Ebola outbreak highlights global rise in epidemics

A year after the deadly Ebola virus broke out in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, public health officials are struggling to contain what has become the second-worst epidemic of the virus in modern history.

That outbreak -- which as of Wednesday had infected more than 2,700 people and killed two-thirds of them -- is just one of a troubling spread of viral epidemics happening around the world.

Some say the spread of preventable diseases is a worrying trend in a turbulent world, in which public health is among the first victims of both crumbling institutions and popular mistrust of expert opinion.

The list of current epidemics is sobering: 

  • Congo is suffering through a severe measles outbreak that has actually killed more children than Ebola.
  • In Yemen, the worst cholera outbreak ever recorded has sickened more than a million people.
  • In Venezuela, malaria has made a jaw-dropping comeback half a century after it was eradicated. One public health group estimates that more than a million people are suffering from malaria as the public health system collapses along with the economy.
  • More polio cases have been diagnosed along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border this year than in all of last year, and the total number of cases may understate the spread of that disease by a factor of a thousand.

Across the world, the institutions capable of organizing public health campaigns have seen a widespread degradation in the level of trust they inspire among increasingly skeptical populations. That lack of trust exists both in isolated communities in Congo's North Kivu province and in populist anti-vaccination groups on the right and left in the United States.

Read more here


Almost three-quarters say minimum age to buy tobacco should be 21: Gallup

Nearly three-quarters of respondents in a new poll said they support raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Gallup found that 73 percent of Americans said they backed raising the minimum tobacco purchase age to 21. Support for the move was higher among older respondents, the survey giant added.

According to the poll, 81 percent of Americans 65 and over supported the increase, as did 70 percent of those aged 50 to 64, 73 percent of respondents aged 30 to 49 and 66 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds.

Context: Raising the minimum tobacco purchasing age is fast becoming a popular policy. Eighteen states and Washington, D.C., have passed laws raising the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21, and there's legislation in the Senate to make it the law nationally. 

More on the findings here


What we're reading 

Everything (or almost everything) you need to know about importing drugs from Canada (Stat News)

Democrats' 'missed opportunity' to talk about drug prices (The Washington Post)

Medicare for all? For more? Here's how Medicare works. (The New York Times)


State by state

Georgia gets bad news on Medicaid waiver funding (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Oklahoma makes final bid to hold J&J responsible for opioid epidemic (Reuters

California bill would fight deals that delay generic drugs (Kaiser Health News)