Overnight Health Care: Walden won't seek reelection | Senate Dems to vote this week to overturn Trump ObamaCare moves | Largest children's migrant shelter to close | Vulnerable Republicans balk at drug pricing bill

Overnight Health Care: Walden won't seek reelection | Senate Dems to vote this week to overturn Trump ObamaCare moves | Largest children's migrant shelter to close | Vulnerable Republicans balk at drug pricing bill
© Anna Moneymaker

Welcome to Monday's Overnight Health Care. 

GOP Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenOvernight Energy: Green groups to sue over Trump rollback of Obama water rules | GOP climate plan faces pushback from right | Bezos launches B climate initiative GOP climate plan faces pushback — from Republicans Coalition plan seeks to cut carbon emissions in half by 2035 MORE (Ore.) is retiring, Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThis week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime Juan Williams: Black votes matter Clyburn: Biden 'suffered' from not doing 'enough' in early debates MORE spoke about her changing positions on "Medicare for All," the country's largest migrant children's shelter is closing, and there's drama in the Senate over ObamaCare and drug pricing.

We'll start with today's big Republican retirement news:

 

Oregon GOP Rep. Greg Walden won't seek reelection

Big news for the health care sector: Walden, the top Republican on the Energy & Commerce Committee, will not seek reelection in 2020. 

In the last Congress, Walden was chairman of the full committee, which has immense power over health care issues in the House. 

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Even though he oversaw the GOP's failed attempts to repeal and replace ObamaCare in 2017, he has prided himself on bipartisanship, and has been praised by Democrats as someone willing to work across the aisle on health issues. He was instrumental in the House's 2018 passage of a bipartisan bill to combat the opioid epidemic and has worked to try to bring down prescription drug prices. 

"I will not seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives, nor election to any other office, but instead I will close the public service chapter of my life," Walden said in a statement Monday.

Reaction... From Energy and Commerce Chairman Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.): "When Greg became Chairman of the full Committee, he focused on the growing national opioid epidemic, and we worked closely together to pass the Support for Patients and Communities Act and to investigate opioid distributors and pill dumping in West Virginia. 

"I look forward to completing our bipartisan work over the next year and wish Greg nothing but the best in the future."

The politics: Walden's decision is yet another challenge for House Republicans. Walden is the 20th House Republican to decide to not seek reelection in 2020, compared with just seven Democrats.

Read more on Walden's decision here.

 

Senate Democrats to vote this week to overturn Trump ObamaCare moves

Senate Democratic leaders said they will force a floor vote as early as Wednesday in an attempt to overturn a Trump administration rule that allows states to ignore parts of ObamaCare.

The resolution from Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerWhite House asking Congress for .5 billion to fight coronavirus Hillicon Valley: Agencies play catch-up over TikTok security concerns | Senate Dems seek sanctions on Russia over new election meddling | Pentagon unveils AI principles Senate Democrats urge Trump administration to impose sanctions on Russia for election interference MORE (D-N.Y.) needs a simple majority to pass, meaning Democrats would need four GOP senators to vote against the Trump policy. It's not likely to happen, but the vote is a symbolic attempt to put vulnerable GOP senators in a tough spot.

The policy: Senate Democrats are forcing a vote to overturn an administration guidance that lets states apply for waivers so they can prioritize cheaper, leaner plans than the ones offered on the ObamaCare exchanges. Basically, it would let states do an end run around the law. The plans don't need to cover some of ObamaCare's "essential" benefits such as mental-health services and prenatal care, and they can refuse to cover people with preexisting conditions. The Trump administration has made it a point to tout state flexibility from ObamaCare, but so far, there haven't been any states to apply. 

The politics: Just because no state has applied, doesn't mean Democrats will give Trump a pass. In this case, it really is the thought that counts. Democrats see health care and protecting people with preexisting conditions as one of their biggest advantages heading into 2020 and want to put vulnerable Republicans like Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyGOP casts Sanders as 2020 boogeyman Overnight Health Care: Officials confirm 34 total coronavirus cases in US | ObamaCare favorability hits highest level in poll | McSally unveils bill to lower drug prices amid tough campaign McSally unveils bill to lower drug prices amid tough campaign MORE (Ariz.) and Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerGOP casts Sanders as 2020 boogeyman Where do we go from here? Conservation can show the way The Hill's Campaign Report: What to watch for in Nevada MORE (Colo.) on record.

"It is preposterous that the Trump administration claims to care about preserving pre-existing condition protections for millions of Americans while simultaneously peddling shoddy, substandard junk plans that undermine and weaken those very protections," Schumer said.  

Read more on the vote here.

 

Harris: 'I knew I'd be called a flip-flopper' on 'Medicare for All' 

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is addressing the sometimes winding road she has taken on health care in the presidential race. 

"I said to my team, 'I know we're gonna take a political hit for it,'" Harris said in an interview with "Axios on HBO" that aired Sunday. "I knew that. I knew we were. I knew I'd be called a flip-flopper for that."

Harris said her health proposal was in response to voters who told her they did not want to lose the choice of having a private plan.

"I heard from people, 'Kamala, don't take away my choice if I want a private plan. Please don't take away my choice.' And I said, you know what? That is fair," Harris added.

Background: She originally said in January, "Let's eliminate all that," in reference to private insurance. In July, she released her own plan that maintained some role for private insurance and would allow privately administered Medicare plans under strict rules.

Big picture: Harris has positioned herself in between staunch Medicare for All supporters like Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders says idea he can't work with Republicans is 'total nonsense' Sanders defends Castro comments in wake of backlash from some Democrats Sanders releases list of how to pay for his proposals MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenCandidates face pressure to exit presidential race Buttigieg proposes undoing SALT deduction cap Bloomberg called Warren 'scary,' knocked Obama's first term in leaked audio MORE (D-Mass.) and those who want an optional government-run plan, like South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegSanders says idea he can't work with Republicans is 'total nonsense' Sanders defends Castro comments in wake of backlash from some Democrats Candidates face pressure to exit presidential race MORE and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSanders defends Castro comments in wake of backlash from some Democrats Klobuchar releases medical report that says she's in 'very good health' Candidates face pressure to exit presidential race MORE.

Read more on Harris here

 

Largest migrant children's shelter to close by end of November

The controversial Homestead Shelter, the only for-profit migrant children's shelter in the country, will close.

The private military contractor which runs Homestead will not have its contract renewed, the administration confirmed Monday.

The contract with Caliburn International, which operates the massive Homestead Shelter in Florida, will end Nov. 30, and the facility will be essentially shuttered. However, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said the shelter is being placed on "warm status," which means the agency will retain access to the Homestead site and could reopen it for temporary use in the future in the event of an increase in unaccompanied child referrals or an emergency situation.

"In our ongoing efforts to ensure fiscal prudence, following a sustained decrease in referrals, HHS operations at the Homestead Temporary Influx facility will be transitioned into warm status effective immediately," the agency said in a statement to The Hill. 

Caliburn referred requests to comment to HHS. The company has come under fire from activists and lawmakers who objected to a for-profit, private prison contractor running a children's shelter at taxpayer expense. Congressional Democrats have also criticized the company for hiring former Trump White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE to serve on its board of directors.

Read more here.

 

Missouri to begin hearing on state's last abortion clinic

A hearing over Missouri's last standing abortion clinic will begin Monday to determine whether it can keep its license to provide abortions.

Administrative Hearing Commissioner Sreenivasa Rao Dandamudi will preside over the hearing as an "independent trial judge," the Associated Press reported, citing a commission official.

Missouri would become the first state since 1974, the year after the Roe v. Wade decision, to not have a functioning abortion clinic, if the clinic is shut down. 

The Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis region had its license officially expire at the end of May. A court ordered the clinic to continue providing abortions until the dispute with the state health department is resolved. 

What's next: The hearings will take five days and will include testimony from state health officials and Planned Parenthood employees.  

Read more on the hearing here.

 

Vulnerable Republicans balk at Trump-backed drug pricing bill

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyMcSally unveils bill to lower drug prices amid tough campaign Ernst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices Overnight Health Care: Nevada union won't endorse before caucuses after 'Medicare for All' scrap | McConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills | CDC confirms 15th US coronavirus case MORE (R-Iowa) is pitching his drug pricing bill as a good way for Republicans to keep control of the Senate next year. 

But many vulnerable Senate Republicans don't seem to agree as of yet. 

GOP Sens. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThe Hill's Campaign Report: What to watch for in Nevada Top GOP super PAC spent money on NC Democrat The Hill's Campaign Report: Warren up, Bloomberg down after brutal debate MORE (N.C.), Martha McSally (Ariz.), Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstSenate Majority PAC launches first statewide TV ad for Democrat running against Ernst Overnight Health Care: Ernst endorses bipartisan bill to lower drug prices | US partnering with drugmakers on coronavirus vaccine | UN chief says virus poses 'enormous' risks Ernst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices MORE (Iowa), who all face potentially tough races next year, have either expressed concerns about the legislation or declined to back it. Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCollins: Trump pick doesn't have experience to serve as director of national intelligence Bill Barr is trying his best to be Trump's Roy Cohn The new American center MORE (Maine) is the lone vulnerable Republican to endorse the measure.

The calculation: On the one hand, the bill has the support of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests Sotomayor, Ginsburg should have to recuse themselves on 'Trump related' cases Sanders says idea he can't work with Republicans is 'total nonsense' Sanders releases list of how to pay for his proposals MORE, and lowering drug prices is a popular issue with voters. But on the other hand, supporting the bill breaks with GOP orthodoxy and invites a backlash from both conservatives and the pharmaceutical industry.

The most controversial provision for Republicans requires drug companies to pay money back to Medicare if their prices rise faster than inflation, something some Republicans view as too close to a "price control."

Read more here

 

House moving PBM transparency bill

The House on Monday night is expected to pass a bipartisan bill to require pharmacy benefit managers to post the total rebates that drug companies pay to them on a public website to help increase transparency around PBMs. 

Context: The passage of this bipartisan bill, shows that the House is moving forward on at least some small, noncontroversial measures at the same time that Democrats push forward on their sweeping, signature drug pricing legislation. 

The moderate Blue Dog Coalition endorsed this bill and had called for a vote on it and other measures. 

Swing-district Democratic Reps. Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerM ad buy praises swing-district Democrats' environmental work House Democrats launch effort to register minority voters in key districts House passes bills to gain upper hand in race to 5G MORE (D-Va.) and Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinM ad buy praises swing-district Democrats' environmental work The Hill's Campaign Report: Buttigieg, Sanders ahead in Iowa debacle Vulnerable House Democrats benefit from fundraising surge amid impeachment MORE (D-Mich.) are sponsors. The lead Republican is Rep. Jodey ArringtonJodey Cook ArringtonGOP lawmaker boasts 'overwhelming bipartisan support' for USMCA trade deal Transparency is a first step in bringing down drug costs for American seniors, families GOP lawmaker says House impeachment rules vote 'doesn't change anything for me' MORE (R-Texas).  

 

Coming up this week: 

The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on compliance with Medicaid eligibility requirements, Wednesday at 2 pm. 

The Senate health committee will markup several bills Thursday at 10 a.m.

 

What we're reading

2020 ObamaCare premiums are on track for smallest increases ever (Vox.com

Democrats' new logic on drug pricing: Developing slightly fewer medicines is OK if it means lower prices (Stat News

Elizabeth Warren's ambiguity on health care comes with some side effects (NPR

 

State by state

States try a gentler approach to getting Medicaid enrollees to work (Kaiser Health News)

Medicaid patients sick and stranded after Florida state-provided rides fail to show  (WFLA

Farmworkers face daunting health risks in California's wildfires (Kaiser Health News

 

From The Hill's opinion page:

Another Chinese threat to our national security: Prescription drugs