Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Warren faces tough choices on 'Medicare for All' funding | Dems demand answers on Tom Price's charter flights | Medicaid expansion nears 2020 ballot in Oklahoma

Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Warren faces tough choices on 'Medicare for All' funding | Dems demand answers on Tom Price's charter flights | Medicaid expansion nears 2020 ballot in Oklahoma
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Welcome to Thursday's Overnight Health Care.

Senate Democrats want answers from HHS on Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceTom Price: Here's how we can obtain more affordable care Rep. Banks launches bid for RSC chairman Doctors push Trump to quickly reopen country in letter organized by conservatives MORE's charter flight tab, Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeBellwether counties show trouble for Trump Colorado GOP Rep. Scott Tipton defeated in primary upset Clinton, Buttigieg among Democrats set to hold virtual events for Biden MORE unveiled his plan to tackle the opioid epidemic, D.C. reported its first vaping death, and Medicaid expansion is one step closer to getting on the ballot in Oklahoma. 

But first we'll start with Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenTrump defends Roger Stone move: He was target of 'Witch Hunt' Democrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' Pharma pricing is a problem, but antitrust isn't the (only) solution MORE and her "Medicare for All" challenge...



Warren faces tough choices on funding "Medicare for all": It's the multitrillion dollar question everyone is trying to answer, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.): How do you pay for "Medicare for all," a proposal that would dramatically reshape the entire U.S. health care system?

Warren, a Democratic candidate for president, says she will soon release a plan to pay for Medicare for all after facing criticism for evading questions about the proposal's potential tax implications for the middle class.

The tough part: While any plan to pay for Medicare for All would likely require a middle-class tax increase, experts say, the issue of funding is complex and would also need a slew of other revenue options as well.

"We're talking about a very substantial increase in revenues," said Linda Blumberg of the Urban Institute, which recently released a cost estimate for a Medicare for all-style plan. "With that large of an increase in revenue needed, my guess is a mix of different revenue sources would be looked at."

The politics: Warren has struggled to answer questions about how she would pay for Medicare for all.

There are disagreements about how much the single-payer system would cost, which make it difficult to figure out how to pay for it.


But the question that keeps arising during the Democratic presidential debates is whether Medicare for all would require a tax increase for the middle class.

We break down Warren's tough choices here.



Senate Democrats demand answers on payments for Tom Price's charter flights

Senate Democrats want to know why the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has not recovered any of the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on improper charter flight travel by the agency's former secretary, Tom Price.

In a letter to the agency on Thursday, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenTrump administration to impose tariffs on French products in response to digital tax Mnuchin: Next stimulus bill must cap jobless benefits at 100 percent of previous income Congress must act now to fix a Social Security COVID-19 glitch and expand, not cut, benefits MORE (D-Ore.), and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayGOP Health Committee chair says he disagrees with Trump's WHO decision Lobbying battle brewing over access to COVID-19 vaccine Trump officials seek to reassure public about safety of a potential coronavirus vaccine MORE (D-Wash.) demanded answers as to why HHS has not followed through on numerous recommendations from the agency's inspector general to recoup the money, and to implement changes to ensure there is no more wasteful spending.

Reminder: The letter comes more than a year after the Office of Inspector General (OIG) recommended HHS recover at least $341,000 of misused federal funds and take steps to ensure the abuse of taxpayer money does not occur again. 

"But the OIG has told our offices that 14 months after the recommendations were issued, HHS has not provided proof of any demonstrable progress toward resolving them, and that all seven recommendations remain outstanding," the lawmakers wrote to HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

Read more here.


Medicaid expansion nears 2020 ballot in Oklahoma

Supporters of Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma on Thursday delivered what they said was a record number of petitions to put expansion on the ballot in 2020.


According to the group Oklahomans Decide Healthcare, supporters of Question 802 submitted about 313,000 signatures. They needed 178,000 to officially qualify as a ballot measure.

The move is the latest effort by voters in red states where the governors and legislatures have blocked Medicaid expansion. In 2018, residents of Utah, Nebraska and Idaho voted to extend coverage to low-income adults.

Supporters of expansion in Oklahoma are highlighting the potential billions of dollars in federal funding that they said could be used to help keep rural hospitals open and help 200,000 people gain health coverage.  

There are currently only 17 states that have refused to expand Medicaid to people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Under ObamaCare, the federal government will pay at least 90 percent of the costs.

Read more here


District of Columbia reports first death from vaping disease


Washington, D.C. on Thursday reported its first death from a vaping-related illness that's been sweeping the country.

According to new federal figures released Thursday, there have been at least 35 reported deaths in 24 states and D.C., with over 1,600 illnesses in every state except Alaska. 

As of October 22, 2019, 1,604 confirmed and probable lung injury cases associated with use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products were reported in 49 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last week, there were a total of 1,479 cases.

According to health officials, every patient has reported using some kind of vaping product, whether it's nicotine, THC, or both.

Still, the CDC says it still doesn't know the cause of the illnesses, and no brand or substance has been linked to all cases. 

Read more here.



O'Rourke unveils plan to combat opioid epidemic 

Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) unveiled a plan Thursday to address substance use disorders and end the opioid crisis as part of his 2020 presidential campaign. 

The plan would, among other things, look to end the stigma of substance abuse, focus on promoting long-term recovery, target the supply chain of illegally imported fentanyl and work to improve economic stability for those recovering from substance abuse.

"The only way that we will overcome the opioid epidemic and help those Americans living with substance use disorders is if we finally treat them not as a criminal justice problem but as individuals in need of support and recovery," said O'Rourke.

"We must hold pharmaceutical corporations accountable for the damage they've caused, while investing in public awareness efforts and supporting access to long-term recovery."

Read more here.


Sponsored Content - Partnership for America's Health Care Future

Medicare for All, Medicare buy-in, and the public option would all ultimately lead to the same harmful consequences of higher taxes and lower quality of care. We can’t afford one-size-fits-all. Learn more.


What we're reading

Economists rush to help Sen. Elizabeth Warren solve Medicare-for-all tax puzzle (Washington Post)

A new generation of activist doctors is fighting for Medicare for All (Time)

Widely used algorithm for follow-up care in hospitals is racially biased, study finds (Stat News


State by state

Ohio House Democrats prepare for life after Affordable Care Act (WOSU)  

ObamaCare open enrollment starts Nov. 1. Here is what's new in Orlando (Orlando Sentinel


The Hill op-ed

Doctors have a problem with Warren's costly health-care plan