Overnight Health Care: CDC links vitamin E oil to vaping illnesses | White House calls Pelosi drug price plan 'unworkable' | Dem offers bill for state-based 'Medicare for All'

Overnight Health Care: CDC links vitamin E oil to vaping illnesses | White House calls Pelosi drug price plan 'unworkable' | Dem offers bill for state-based 'Medicare for All'
© iStock

Welcome to Friday's Overnight Health Care. CDC officials say there's been a "breakthrough" in the search for the cause of a mysterious vaping-related lung illness. And a top Trump health care adviser is sounding off on the FDA's tobacco oversight and Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi suggests filibuster supporters 'dishonor' MLK's legacy on voting rights The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat GOP senator knocks Biden for 'spreading things that are untrue' in voting rights speech MORE's drug pricing bill. 


CDC links vitamin E oil to vaping deaths, illnesses

The federal government has zeroed in on vitamin E acetate as one of the main causes of a mysterious lung illness that has affected more than 2,000 people.

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say they have found the chemical in the lungs of 29 patients across 10 states.


"These findings provide direct evidence of vitamin E acetate at the primary site of injury within the lungs," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC. 

The findings represent a "breakthrough" in the search for the cause of the outbreak, which started earlier this year, Schuchat said. 

THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, was found in 23 of the patients.

Why it matters: Public health officials already knew that many of the patients had vaped products containing vitamin E acetate and THC before becoming ill. 

However, it is the first time the chemical has been found in fluid from patients' lungs. 

Read more here


White House says Pelosi plan to lower drug prices 'unworkable'

President TrumpDonald TrumpSanders calls out Manchin, Sinema ahead of filibuster showdown Laura Ingraham 'not saying' if she'd support Trump in 2024 The Hill's 12:30 Report: Djokovic may not compete in French Open over vaccine requirement MORE's top health care adviser called Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) plan to lower drug prices "unworkable" while endorsing a bipartisan bill in the Senate. 

"Nancy Pelosi's bill right now is unworkable, it's impractical, and it's hyperpartisan and it is not going to pass in its current form," Joe Grogan, head of the White House's Domestic Policy Council, told reporters Friday. 

The Speaker's bill would allow Medicare to negotiate prices with drug companies, a concept that is described as "socialist" and "price-setting" by Republicans. 

Instead, Grogan said he's working with Sens. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleySenate antitrust bill has serious ramifications for consumers and small businesses Hillicon Valley: Amazon's Alabama union fight — take two Senate Judiciary Committee to debate key antitrust bill MORE (R-Iowa) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSanders, 50 Democrats unveil bill to send N95 masks to all Americans Manchin told White House he would back version of billionaire tax: report Democrats look to scale back Biden bill to get it passed MORE (D-Ore.) on a bill that ties Medicare drug prices to the rate of inflation while capping what seniors pay out-of-pocket for their prescriptions.

"We are very supportive of the Grassley-Wyden compromise. It is the product of a really good, bipartisan, collaborate approach to solving drug pricing," Grogan said. 

Why it matters: The only bill that can get enough support from Republicans and Democrats to pass is in the Senate. But it's not clear if Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnell​​Democrats make voting rights push ahead of Senate consideration Hogan won't say if he will file to run for Senate by Feb. 22 deadline Voting rights, Trump's Big Lie, and Republicans' problem with minorities MORE (R-Ky.) will want to force his members to take a vote on health care ahead of an election. 

"This is an issue that both Republicans and Democrats should be able to come together and get done, and unfortunately there are some complications on that front," Grogan acknowledged. 

Read more here


More from Grogan below...


Top Trump official questions FDA tobacco oversight as vaping ban looms

President Trump's top policy official said he thinks the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is wasting its time by regulating tobacco products.

Joe Grogan, the head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, told reporters on Friday that the FDA would be better off focusing its efforts on approving drugs that help people, rather than tobacco, which has "no redeeming qualities."

"On a personal level, I hate tobacco issues, I always have, and FDA shouldn't be regulating this stuff in the first place," Grogan said, before adding that he has never spoken to Trump about the issue, and it was just his personal opinion.

Grogan called the FDA's efforts on tobacco regulation a "huge waste of time" and said the agency has been "sucked in the mud" dealing with tobacco rather than approving more drugs or focusing on serious illnesses. 

"FDA regulates drugs, which help people … it regulates devices, which help people. Tobacco has no redeeming qualities" and should not be regulated by a health agency, Grogan added.  

But what's the alternative: "I don't know," he said. 

Read more here


Progressive House Democrat unveils bill to allow state-based 'Medicare for All'

Medicare for All is a very tough lift nationally, so Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaSanders, 50 Democrats unveil bill to send N95 masks to all Americans Overnight Health Care — Insurance will soon cover COVID-19 tests Congressional Democrats press Biden to expand rapid COVID-19 testing MORE (D-Calif.) thinks maybe a state could try it first. 

The bill unveiled Friday from Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) would allow states to apply for waivers with the federal government that would let states pool federal money to be used towards a single-payer system, combining money states currently get through programs like Medicaid, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act. 

The idea is that states could be early adopters of a Medicare for All system and inspire other states or the federal government to follow their lead. Khanna cited as an example the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, which adopted government-run health insurance in 1947 before the idea expanded to the whole country. 

Big picture: Khanna's bill has no chance of passing the Senate under Republican control and with President Trump in the White House, but it could prove more amenable to some Democrats than a full-scale national single-payer plan if Democrats were to win back the Senate and White House in 2020. 

Read more here


What we're reading

Can't Pay the Medical Bill? Your Hospital Might Sue (New York Times)

'Just The Right Policy': Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegAirlines warn of 'catastrophic' crisis when new 5G service is deployed Buttigieg says parenthood 'lights a fire' The Memo: 2024 chatter reveals Democratic nervousness MORE On His 'Medicare For All Who Want It' Plan (NPR

Democrats Have Spent All Year Freaked Out About "Electability." That Panic Is Increasingly Focused On Medicare For All. (BuzzFeed)


State by state

Arizona Lawmakers Trying To Keep Pre-existing Condition Coverage if ObamaCare Voided (KAWC

The Trump administration cracked down on Medicaid. Idaho kids lost insurance (ProPublica

Cheaper than Obamacare? Budget-priced plans can cost far more if you get sick (Orlando Sentinel)