Overnight Health Care: House Dems clash over Pelosi drug pricing bill | Senate blocks effort to roll back Trump ObamaCare moves | Number of uninsured children rises

Overnight Health Care: House Dems clash over Pelosi drug pricing bill | Senate blocks effort to roll back Trump ObamaCare moves | Number of uninsured children rises
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Welcome to Wednesday's Overnight Health Care. Senate Democrats forced a vote on a resolution to overturn the Trump administration's insurance rules but fell short, and a new study showed the number of uninsured children has topped 4 million. 

But we'll first start over in the House where there's a fight over drug pricing:


House Democrats clash over Pelosi's drug pricing bill

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Social Security emerges as flash point in Biden-Sanders fight | Dems urge Supreme Court to save consumer agency | Trump to sign USMCA next week Veronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address MORE's (D-Calif.) signature bill to lower drug prices could come to the floor as soon as mid-November, but House Democrats are not on the same page. 

Centrist side: A group of centrists, including Rep. Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphySan Francisco mayor endorses Bloomberg Rep. Bobby Rush endorses Bloomberg's White House bid Sanders, Warren battle for progressive endorsements MORE (D-Fla.), co-chairwoman of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition, has warned leadership that some moderate Democrats might vote against the bill if it moves any further to the left, sources say. 

Progressive side: Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalSanders says it's 'disappointing' he's not on campaign trail in Iowa Sanders announces Iowa campaign swing with AOC, Michael Moore Lawmakers introduce bill to reform controversial surveillance authorities MORE (D-Wash.), co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told The Hill, "I really don't understand" why moderates are objecting to the changes, adding that she was undeterred on pushing for changes. 

Among the items progressives want: 

  • Increasing the number of drugs that would be subject to negotiation under the bill
  • Fully repealing the ban on Medicare negotiating drug prices
  • Extending protections against price increases into the private employer-sponsored insurance market.  

But centrists worry about more changes.


"The further left you go with drug pricing bills, it just means it's only going to be a House-only bill and a Democrat-only bill," said Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.), a co-chairman of the Blue Dog Coalition who faces a tough reelection race. "That's not helping people in my district."

Read more on the divide here


Senate blocks effort to roll back Trump administration's ObamaCare rule

Senate Democrats tried to make a point about pre-existing condition protections in forcing a vote on a Trump administration rule on Wednesday, though it predictably failed amid Republican opposition. 

Senators voted 43-52 on the resolution, falling short of the simple majority needed to pass. 

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSchiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line Schiff closes Democrats' impeachment arguments with emotional appeal to remove Trump Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment MORE (R-Maine) was the only Republican to vote for the resolution.

Democrats wanted to overturn a Trump administration rule on so-called 1332 waivers that makes it easier for states to opt out of certain ObamaCare requirements and prioritize cheaper, less-inclusive plans than ones offered under ObamaCare.

Members of the party have termed the plans "junk insurance" because companies can refuse to cover people with pre-existing conditions. 

Republicans argued the rule gives states more flexibility. 

Read more here


Lawsuit claims Juul knowingly sold 1 million 'contaminated' pods 

E-cigarette company Juul knowingly shipped 1 million "contaminated" pods to retailers this year and refused to recall the products or warn consumers, a former executive claimed in a lawsuit he filed against the company this week.

Siddharth Breja, who served as Juul's senior vice president of global finance in 2018 and 2019, is suing the company for damages, arguing he was "terminated in retaliation" for being a whistleblower.

In the lawsuit filed Tuesday in the Northern District of California, Breja said he was fired after objecting to the shipment and raising concerns about other instances of "illegal and unsafe conduct" that "jeopardized" public health and the lives of consumers.

Juul, which dominates the e-cigarette market in the U.S., has had a tumultuous year as it battles accusations that it purposely marketed to kids. 

Meanwhile, federal health officials are investigating an outbreak of lung illnesses among patients that vaped THC and nicotine products.

In his lawsuit, Breja did not say what the shipped pods were allegedly contaminated with, but he noted they were mint flavored -- one of the company's best-selling products.

Why it matters: Anti-tobacco advocates have long-argued e-cigarette companies aren't careful enough about what they put in their products. That a former employee is alleging Juul knowingly sold contaminated products is a big deal, especially as health officials try to learn more about the outbreak of lung illnesses associated with vaping.  

The other side: Juul contends Breja is a disgruntled former employee who was fired for being a bad leader.  

"He was terminated in March 2019 because he failed to demonstrate the leadership qualities needed in his role," the spokesperson said. "The allegations concerning safety issues with Juul products are equally meritless, and we already investigated the underlying manufacturing issue and determined the product met all applicable specifications. The company will vigorously defend this lawsuit."

Read more on the allegations here


Biden aide: 'Alarming' that Sanders won't release details of paying for Medicare for All

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSchiff closes Democrats' impeachment arguments with emotional appeal to remove Trump Conservative reporter on Sanders: He's not a 'yes man' Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment MORE's campaign is attacking Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders to Clinton: 'This is not the kind of rhetoric that we need' Conservative reporter on Sanders: He's not a 'yes man' Human Rights Campaign president rips Sanders's embrace of Rogan endorsement MORE (I-Vt.) for saying he does not need to release details on how to pay for Medicare for All right away.  

It's alarming that Senator Sanders, who has been up-front for years that Medicare for All would require middle class tax hikes, won't tell voters "right now" how much more they will pay in taxes because of his plan," Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement. "If not now, then when?"

She was responding to Sanders's comments to CNBC, in an interview published Tuesday, when Sanders downplayed the need to release details on how to pay for his signature health care policy.  

"You're asking me to come up with an exact detailed plan of how every American -- how much you're going to pay more in taxes, how much I'm going to pay," Sanders said. "I don't think I have to do that right now."

Big picture: The Biden campaign's eagerness to hit Sanders on this point shows how central Medicare for All is to the fight between progressives like Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenKlobuchar plans campaign rallies across Iowa despite impeachment trial Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Wyden asks NSA to investigate White House cybersecurity | Commerce withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon objects | Warren calls on Brazil to drop Greenwald charges Warren pledges to release Trump records if elected MORE (D-Mass.) and more moderate candidates like Biden. 

Read more here


Number of uninsured children rises for second year, tops 4 million

The number of uninsured children in the U.S. increased for the second year in a row and now tops 4 million, the most since ObamaCare became law, according to a new report released Wednesday.

According to the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, the number of uninsured children increased by more than 400,000 between 2016 and 2018.

The report found that the increase has wiped out a large share of the coverage gains made since the enactment of the health care law in 2014 and is due in large part to policies championed by the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress.

According to researchers, ObamaCare helped more children obtain health coverage. But beginning in 2017, the number of uninsured children began to rise.

The report specifically cited the confusion surrounding the administration's failed attempt to repeal ObamaCare, the successful elimination of the law's individual mandate and a months-long delay in funding the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). 

In addition, the report cited the Trump administration's decision to dramatically cut ObamaCare outreach and enrollment grants while also shortening the open enrollment period.

Why it matters: It follows a larger trend of growing uninsured rates under the Trump administration, which the Census has largely attributed to people dropping or losing Medicaid coverage.

Read more on the numbers here


What we're reading

Johnson & Johnson's own expert, working for FDA, found asbestos in baby powder (Reuters

How Americans split on health care: it's a 3-way tie (The New York Times)

Warren: 'I'm glad to talk to Bernie' about Medicare for All (CNN.com

ObamaCare tax at issue as Humana cuts hundreds of jobs (WDRB Louisville


State by state

Maine ACA enrollment expected to drop as state continues its Medicaid expansion (Press Herald

Health care is on the ballot in state elections starting next week (Vox


The Hill op-eds

Can we afford more unintended consequences?