Overnight Healthcare

Overnight Health Care: Insurance lobby chief calls Biden, Sanders health plans 'similarly bad' | Trump officials appeal drug price disclosure ruling | Study finds 1 in 7 people ration diabetes medicine due to cost

Welcome to Wednesday's Overnight Health Care.

The head of the health insurance lobby sat down with The Hill and discussed his views on "Medicare for All" and the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

New figures show diabetics are rationing their medication and the House Energy and Commerce Committee is launching an investigation into e-cigarettes. 

We'll start with some news from the health insurance industry...


Insurance lobby chief says Biden, Sanders health plans 'similarly bad'

The head of the nation's health insurance lobby on Wednesday said he does not see much difference between "Medicare for All," which is being championed by progressive Democratic presidential candidates, and the public option pushed by former Vice President Joe Biden.  

Matt Eyles, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), said Biden's public option would still have too much government involvement in the health care system.

"If you're creating a government-run option that essentially leverages price controls, and relies on a government-administered system, that doesn't create what would be a competitive playing field," Eyles told The Hill in an interview.

"It's more similar in some of the ... Medicare for All-type approaches than ... improving upon what the [Affordable Care Act] has," Eyles said.

Why it matters: It's not all about Medicare for All. Major players in the American health care system are attacking any proposals to expand Medicare with equal force. AHIP is a member of the Partnership for America's Health Care Future, an industry coalition of insurers, providers and drug companies, that formed to lobby against Medicare for All and public option proposals.

Read more here.


Head of health insurance lobby responds to Sanders: 'We disclose all of our lobbying'

We also asked the head of the health insurance lobby, Matt Eyles, to respond to a letter Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sent him asking how much he would spend fighting "Medicare for All." 

Eyles didn't punch back at Sanders directly but did outline why he thinks Medicare for All is bad. 

"I mean we're taking it very seriously and we disclose all of our lobbying," Eyles, the CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), told The Hill. "So you can see what we're spending on lobbying. Not all of it will be on Medicare for All, there's a lot of other issues we'll be spending on, but it is an important issue to us." 

The numbers: Lobbying records show that AHIP spent about $5 million on lobbying in the first half of this year, though there are also additional avenues like campaign contributions and advertising spending.

The big picture: A range of candidates, not just Sanders, have found it to be good politics to attack health insurance companies and drug companies. 

Those industries are fighting back against Medicare for All. 

"Building on what we have, the infrastructure that we have, through the ACA, is the best way to expand coverage," Eyles said. 

Read more here.


Study finds about 1 in 7 people with diabetes ration medicine due to cost

Almost one in seven adults with diabetes did not take their medication as prescribed because of its cost, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday. 

The survey finds that 13.2 percent of adults with diabetes either skipped a dose, took less medicine, or delayed filling a prescription because of cost. That can be deadly for people with diabetes who need insulin to survive. 

The high cost of insulin has been one of the leading examples cited by advocates for lowering drug prices. 

In addition, the survey found that 24.4 percent of adults with diabetes asked their doctors for a lower-cost prescription. 

While skipping doses was most common among uninsured people, it was reported even among some people who had health insurance: 14 percent of adults aged 18-65 with private health insurance reported not taking their medication as prescribed because of cost. 

Why it matters: Members in both parties are working on legislation aimed at lowering drug prices, though Democrats are pushing Republicans to go further and it is unclear if anything will eventually pass. 

Read more here.


Trump administration appeals drug price disclosure ruling

The Trump administration announced Wednesday that it is appealing a federal judge's ruling that blocked the implementation of a policy requiring prescription drug manufacturers to disclose their list prices in TV ads.

The appeal, announced in a court filing, gives President Trump and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) another chance to resurrect what was one of the administration's key attempts at lowering prescription drug prices

Under the rule, which was announced by HHS Secretary Alex Azar in May, drug manufacturers would have to state the list price of a 30-day supply of any drug that is covered through Medicare and Medicaid and costs at least $35 a month.

Drug companies fought the rule from the start, and three -- Amgen, Merck and Eli Lilly -- filed a lawsuit, joined by the Association of National Advertisers. 

Read more here.


House Democratic chairman launches probe of e-cigarette companies

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) is launching a probe into e-cigarette companies and their marketing practices, in the wake of a mysterious new lung illness being reported in young people

Pallone on Wednesday sent letters to the four dominant e-cigarette manufacturers, requesting information on each of the companies' research into the public health impacts of their products, their marketing practices, and their role in the promotion of e-cigarette use by adolescents.  

The letters were sent to Juul Labs, Inc., Fontem Ventures, the U.S. division of Japan Tobacco International, and Reynolds American Inc., which collectively represent most of the current e-cigarette market, Pallone said.

"I am concerned that [electronic nicotine delivery] products, like JUUL, are continuing to be disseminated, marketed, and used while consumers lack adequate information to evaluate the health implications of using these products," Pallone wrote to Juul CEO Kevin Burns.  

Pallone noted that officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with state health officials are currently investigating 94 possible cases of severe lung illnesses linked to vaping among young people in 14 states, including 30 cases in Wisconsin alone.

Read more here.


What we're reading

FDA on Novartis data manipulation controversy: 'We happened to be lucky' (Stat News)

Why 2020 Democrats are backing off Medicare for All, in four charts (The Washington Post)

After Trump blames mental illness for mass shootings, health agencies ordered to hold all posts on issue (The Washington Post)

Why Planned Parenthood can't totally write off Susan Collins (Huff Post)

Joe Camel was forced out of ads. So why is Juul allowed on TV? (Kaiser Health News)


State by state

Opioid treatment is used vastly more in states that expanded Medicaid (The New York Times)

Missouri cites economy, eligibility checks for Medicaid drop (Associated Press)

Feds eye Inland Empire for major new site to house unaccompanied migrant children (KQED)


From The Hill's opinion page:

The public health approach to preventing mass violence