Overnight Healthcare

Overnight Health Care: Democratic group to only endorse AG candidates who back abortion rights | Protect Our Care launches seven-figure ad buy to boost vulnerable Dems | California sues Juul

Welcome to Monday's Overnight Health Care. 

A House Democrat wants answers from the Trump administration about the long-delayed vaping ban, California is suing Juul, and a Democratic-aligned group is boosting Dems with drug pricing ads.

But we'll start with news from Democratic attorneys general: 

 

Democratic group to only endorse attorney general candidates who back abortion rights

The Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) will only back candidates who support abortion rights, becoming the first national party committee to make that pledge. 

Beginning in 2020, Democratic candidates for attorney general seats who oppose abortion access will no longer receive financial support or other assistance from DAGA. 

The decision comes after a year in which state legislatures passed dozens of laws aimed at restricting abortion access. 

DAGA "will only endorse candidates who stand with the majority of Americans who support protecting reproductive rights," the organization announced in a video Monday. 

Why it matters: Other Democratic committees, like the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, have resisted pressure from abortion rights groups and progressives to only endorse candidates who support access to the procedure.

Context: Jim Hood of Mississippi is currently the only Democratic attorney general to identify as "pro-life" and he's not up for reelection next year. But DAGA's decision could pressure other Democratic campaign committees to eventually change their policies. 

Reaction: Republicans and anti-abortion activists argue DAGA's decision will only help them in 2020.

From the Republican Attorneys General Association: "Following a clean sweep of wins in 2019, Republicans have outstanding momentum going into 2020. While RAGA is focused on winning elections and the hearts and minds of voters, DAGA is focused on disregarding the rule of law and folding to the demands of extreme special interest groups." 

Read more about the decision and the political fallout here.

 

Protect Our Care launches seven-figure ad buy boosting vulnerable Democrats on drug prices

Vulnerable House Democrats are getting some backup on the all-important issue of health care. 

The Democratic group Protect Our Care is launching $2 million in new digital ads highlighting House Democrats' efforts to lower drug prices in 20 competitive districts. 

"Rep. Elissa Slotkin is standing up to big drug companies," the narrator in the ad for Slotkin, a Michigan Democrat, states. "She's fighting to give Medicare the power to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices, reducing your costs by as much as 55 percent."

The 10 new districts in the campaign are those of Democratic Reps. Angie Craig (Minn.), Sharice Davids (Kan.), Antonio Delgado (N.Y.), Lizzie Fletcher (Texas), Jared Golden (Maine), Susie Lee (Nev.), Elaine Luria (Va.), Lucy McBath (Ga.), Chris Pappas (N.H.) and Susan Wild (Pa.), all of

whom face potentially tough reelection races next year. 

The politics: The ads illustrate how Democrats are seeking to keep their momentum going on health care after they focused on the issue in winning back the House last year.

The ad buy shows that even as the impeachment inquiry into President Trump gains focus, Democrats are still trying to focus on kitchen-table issues like lowering drug prices. 

Read more here.

 

House Democratic chairman demands answers from Trump officials on vaping flavor ban

A House Democratic committee chairman wants answers from the Trump administration about whether the ban on e-cigarette flavors will ever happen.

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, sent a letter Monday to the White House and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) demanding to know the status of the promised vaping-flavor guidance.

The letter follows reports that President Trump has backed off his pledge to remove all flavored vaping products from the market after pushback from the vaping industry and political advisers. Trump was reportedly concerned about job losses

It's not clear if the ban will be watered down, or if it will happen at all.

"The strong promises made by the President and his Administration to address the youth vaping epidemic were incredibly encouraging. Now, however, the delay in finalizing the Administration's compliance policy raises deep concerns," Krishnamoorthi wrote.

Read more on the pressure from Dems here.

 

California sues Juul for allegedly marketing to young people

California is suing e-cigarette manufacturing giant Juul, alleging the company deliberately targeted young people through its advertising campaigns.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) announced the lawsuit Monday, alleging that the company's early viral marketing campaigns led millions of American youth to start vaping without knowing the potential harms.

Becerra also said that Juul unlawfully failed to verify the age of California consumers and then sent marketing materials to minors who failed the company's verification.

The embattled company is facing federal and state probes for its role in creating what health officials call a youth vaping epidemic, as well as a separate lawsuit alleging Juul knowingly put 1 million tainted vaping pods on the market. Juul recently replaced its CEO and laid off over 600 people in an effort to trim over $1 billion in costs. It no longer advertises on television, in print or online, and has removed all flavors from the market except for menthol. 

Read more on the lawsuit here.

 

ICYMI... Medicaid block grant guidance withdrawn

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Friday quietly withdrew a guidance from regulatory review that was expected to allow states to cap Medicaid funds and convert Medicaid into a block grant. 

The agency did not say why the guidance was removed, but a spokesman said CMS Administrator Seem Verma's comments from last week remain accurate. Specifically, Verma told state Medicaid directors that guidance will be coming "soon" that will outline a demonstration program "to test new approaches to delivering and financing care for certain optional adult populations" and provide "unprecedented flexibilities for program operation."

The guidance had been under review at the White House Office of Management and Budget since June. The agency did not say how the demonstration would be moving forward. 

 

Aetna rejoins AHIP

The health insurance lobbying group is getting a boost by regaining Aetna, a major member that it lost in 2016. Aetna's departure was seen at the time as a blow to the group, as it was the second major insurance company to leave in less than a year. 

 

What we're reading

The best-case and worst-case scenarios for Trump's health care price transparency rule (Vox.com

Public health groups fuming over Trump's inaction on vaping flavor ban (NBC News)

Warren's 'Medicare for All' plan reignites health care clash (Associated Press

Startup seeks to hold doctors, hospitals accountable on patient record request (Kaiser Health News)

 

State by state

Wisconsin delays Medicaid work requirement until early next year (Kenosha News

For supporters of abortion access, troubling trends in Texas (NPR)

'Meth. We're On It.': South Dakota spends $449K on new anti-meth ad campaign (Sioux Falls Argus Leader)

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