Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — House passes sweeping Pelosi bill to lower drug prices | Senate confirms Trump FDA pick | Trump officials approve Medicaid work requirements in South Carolina
Overnight Health Care: Cigarette smoking rates at new low | Spread of vaping illness slowing | Dems in Congress push to block Trump abortion rule
Welcome to Thursday's Overnight Health Care.
Cigarette smoking rates have hit an all-time low, we have new numbers on the vaping illness, and House and Senate Democrats are pushing to block the Trump administration's Title X rule.
We'll start with some new data on smoking from the CDC...
Adult cigarette smoking rates hit all-time low in U.S.
Cigarette smoking among adults has hit an all-time low, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
About 13.7 percent of adults, or 34.2 million people, smoked cigarettes in 2018, slightly down from the previous year, according to the report.
"This marked decline in cigarette smoking is the achievement of a consistent and coordinated effort by the public health community and our many partners," Dr. Robert Redfield, CDC director, said in a statement.
"Yet, our work is far from over," he continued. "The health benefits of quitting smoking are significant, and we are committed to educating Americans about the steps they can take to become tobacco-free."
Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., causing more than 480,000 deaths per year.
Overall, 19.7 percent of adults used tobacco products in 2018, including cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, pipes and hookah.
Spread of vaping illness slowing
More than 2,100 people have become sick after vaping, according to data released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As of Wednesday, the CDC had confirmed 2,172 probable lung injury cases associated with e-cigarettes since the outbreak started earlier this year. The illnesses have been reported in the District of Columbia and every state except for Alaska.
That's an increase of just 121 cases from last week as the spread of the illness has slowed from its peak. The CDC also confirmed 42 deaths in 24 states and D.C., an increase of three fatalities from last week.
The CDC last week identified vitamin E as a chemical of concern among people with vaping-associated lung injuries, but officials have cautioned it is likely not the only cause. The agency tested samples from 29 patients across 10 states and found vitamin E acetate in all of the samples. Vitamin E acetate might be used as an additive, most notably as a thickening agent in THC-containing vaping products, CDC said.
Planned Parenthood, Democrats push for Congress to block Trump's Title X rule
Planned Parenthood and House and Senate Democratic appropriators say they're not letting up in their fight to block the Trump administration's family planning rule.
The rule blocks Title X family planning providers from referring women for abortions. As a result, Planned Parenthood and some other health care providers have pulled out of the program. Now Senate Democrats are trying to slip language into a spending bill blocking the Trump administration from enforcing the rule.
The House passed a spending bill including similar language in June. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), chairwoman of the House labor-HHS subcommittee, called on Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Richard Shelby (Ala.), Republican appropriators in the upper chamber, to allow a vote on the language.
"I urge Senators Blunt and Shelby, and Senate Republicans, to stop attacking women's health and include language that blocks the domestic gag rule," DeLauro said.
Reality check: It's very unlikely Senate Republicans will pass a spending bill blocking the Title X rule, which they support. President Trump has also said he will not sign a spending bill that rolls back any of the "pro-life" gains made by his administration.
The Senate Appropriations Committee postponed a vote on the Labor-HHS spending bill in September after Democrats added an amendment blocking the Title X rule. A vote has not been rescheduled.
2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides
Top Democrats running for president in 2020 are vowing to reduce veteran suicide rates by improving access to mental health care and making improvements to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The issue has received newfound attention on the campaign trail with former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), as well as South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg all releasing plans in recent weeks to address the issue.
And for the candidates it's become an important way to signal their commitment to issues important to veterans, a group that overwhelmingly supported President Trump in the last election.
Trump has touted his administration's work for veterans, but Democrats say those words don't match reality.
"Each of them deserves our respect and enduring gratitude, both while on active duty and after separating from service," Biden's campaign wrote in the plan it rolled out Tuesday to coincide with Veterans Day. "President Trump has repeatedly failed our veterans and ignored this sacred obligation."
Report: Georgia health proposals would cost more, cover fewer people than full Medicaid expansion
Georgia's new plans to expand health coverage and waive certain ObamaCare rules would cover fewer people, and cost more than a full Medicaid expansion, according to a new report.
The report from the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found Georgia's plan to partially expand Medicaid, combined with a proposal to radically overhaul the state's insurance market and use state subsidies to pay for health plans that don't meet ObamaCare's coverage requirements, would cost $322 million -- or about $215 million excluding costs covered by user fees -- to extend coverage to just under 80,000 Georgians.
According to a state analysis, it would cost between $188 million and $213 million to expand Medicaid coverage to 487,000 to 598,000 residents.
Georgia Gov Brian Kemp (R) earlier this month released a pair of health proposals. One plan would enact a limited form of Medicaid expansion, and let residents with incomes at or below the poverty line qualify for Medicaid so long as they work, volunteer or go to job training 80 hours a month.
Kemp's office projected that only about 50,000 people would eventually enroll in Medicaid, because the rest won't be able to meet the strict work requirements.
The other proposal would establish state subsidies to allow people to buy short-term and association health plans that are typically cheaper than ObamaCare but cover fewer benefits. It also calls for Georgia to exit the federal healthcare.gov platform.
What we're reading
Drug prices to rise in 2020, but public outcry may finally stir political will (San Diego Union-Tribune)
Welcome to Molar City, Mexico, the dental mecca America's health care costs built (HuffPost)
ObamaCare signups are down, but the marketplaces are still healthy (PBS Newshour)
State by state
While impeachment swirls, Chuck Grassley focused on drug prices (The Gazette)
A Philly woman's broken back and $36,000 bill shows how some health insurance brokers trick consumers into skimpy plans (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Florida's refusal to expand Medicaid cost 2,800 deaths, report says (Tampa Bay Times)
Michigan moderates sense jitters on Medicare for All (The Wall Street Journal)
From The Hill's opinion page