Overnight Health Care: Fireworks on health care expected at Dem debate | Trump FDA pick dodges on vaping ban | Trump to host meeting on youth vaping Friday | AMA calls for immediate vaping ban

Overnight Health Care: Fireworks on health care expected at Dem debate | Trump FDA pick dodges on vaping ban | Trump to host meeting on youth vaping Friday | AMA calls for immediate vaping ban
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Welcome to Wednesday's Overnight Health Care.

It's debate night, and health care is sure to be on the menu. There's also plenty of vaping news from FDA nominee Stephen Hahn's confirmation hearing. 



Coming up at 9: More health care fighting! 

The Democratic presidential debate is tonight at 9 p.m., and there's sure to be lots of clashes over "Medicare for All" (just like in previous ones). 

But this is the first debate since Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOn The Money: Biden to nominate Yellen for Treasury secretary | 'COVID cliff' looms | Democrats face pressure to back smaller stimulus Biden to nominate Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary: report Bottom line MORE (D-Mass.) released her latest plans for how to pay for Medicare for All and how to transition to it.

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete Buttigieg'Biff is president': Michael J. Fox says Trump has played on 'every worst instinct in mankind' Buttigieg: Denying Biden intelligence briefings is about protecting Trump's 'ego' Biden's win is not a policy mandate — he should govern accordingly MORE has also risen in the polls and could bear the brunt of more attacks from his rivals. 

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden team wants to understand Trump effort to 'hollow out government agencies' Overnight Defense: Trump transgender ban 'inflicts concrete harms,' study says | China objects to US admiral's Taiwan visit Protect our world: How the Biden administration can save lives and economies worldwide MORE will again explicitly tie himself to former President Obama and efforts to enhance the Affordable Care Act. 

"You're going to hear the vice president really make a case for the progressive success of the Obama administration, and the belief that it laid an important foundation for tackling the problems and the challenges that we're facing in the world today," a senior Biden campaign official said, referring specifically to the Affordable Care Act.  

One thing we're watching: Will Warren talk about the executive actions she laid out that don't require congressional action? And will any other candidates talk about what they would do if Republicans keep control of the Senate? 



Tennessee submits block grant proposal

Tennessee on Wednesday formally asked the Trump administration for permission to convert its Medicaid program into a limited, block grant–type model, a controversial plan that, if approved, could be the first in the nation.

The proposal will test the Trump administration's ability to allow states the flexibility to make drastic changes to Medicaid. 

Imposing block grants in Medicaid has long been a major conservative goal and has been encouraged by the Trump administration, but it is not clear if the administration alone has the legal authority to allow such drastic changes.

Once the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services certifies the application, it will be open for public comment for 30 days.


Trump FDA pick dodges questions on Trump's flavored vape ban

Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandGOP chairman vows to protect whistleblowers following Vindman retirement over 'bullying' Top Democrat slams Trump's new EU envoy: Not 'a political donor's part-time job' Trump names new EU envoy, filling post left vacant by impeachment witness Sondland MORE wasn't the only big hearing today...

In the health care world, President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden team wants to understand Trump effort to 'hollow out government agencies' Trump's remaking of the judicial system Overnight Defense: Trump transgender ban 'inflicts concrete harms,' study says | China objects to US admiral's Taiwan visit MORE's pick for the Food and Drug Administration had a confirmation hearing before the Senate Health Committee, where he declined to endorse the idea of a vaping flavor ban.

Stephen Hahn, the chief medical executive of MD Anderson Cancer Center, said "aggressive action" is needed to stop the youth vaping epidemic, and to prevent young people from becoming addicted to nicotine and tobacco. 

But when pressed at his confirmation hearing, Hahn did not directly address the issue of a flavor ban.

"I understand that the final compliance policy is under consideration, I don't want to prejudge that," Hahn said.

The questions from Democrats and Republicans came after multiple reports that Trump is backing down from his pledge to remove all flavored e-cigarettes from the market. 


Just a week ago, the FDA official in charge of tobacco products testified in the same committee, and repeatedly declined to commit that the administration would ban flavored e-cigarettes. 

Read more here


Trump to hear from 'all sides' in meeting on youth vaping rates Friday

President Trump will meet Friday with stakeholders on the issue of youth vaping, the White House announced Wednesday. 

A "diverse" group of advocates, industry representatives, nonprofits, medical associations and state officials will attend the meeting, White House spokesman Judd Deere said Wednesday.

"As the president has said, there is a serious problem among our youth and their growing addiction to e-cigarettes," Deere said in a statement. 


Why it matters: Trump and his top health officials announced in September the administration would clear the market of all flavored e-cigarettes that critics say appeal to children, such as fruit and mint. 

But The New York Times and other outlets have reported Trump backed off of that proposal, fearing political blowback. 

"The policymaking process is not stalled -- it continues to move forward," Deere said.

Still, anti-tobacco advocates are losing hope that the Trump administration will follow through on its September promise. 

Read more here


Congress feels heat to act on youth vaping


Pressure is building on Congress to act on rising youth vaping rates amid inaction from President Trump.

House Democrats plan to pass a bill by year's end that would ban flavored e-cigarette products they say helped to spark a teen vaping epidemic. 

Democrats found themselves in rare agreement with Trump when he vowed to clear the market of those products two months ago, but he has since backed off after facing a backlash from vapers, conservative groups and the industry. 

"This White House has been co-opted by the tobacco industry," Rep. Donna ShalalaDonna Edna ShalalaFive House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet GOP congresswoman-elect wants to form Republican 'Squad' called 'The Force' Florida Democrat breaks down loss: 'It's not just about socialism' MORE (D-Fla.), the co-sponsor of the bill, told The Hill on Tuesday. 

"We're going to pass a comprehensive bill. We're not going to compromise," said Shalala, who served as secretary of the Health and Human Services Department during the Clinton administration. 

Why it matters: Congress actually does have the power to address rising youth vaping rates. But it's unclear how much consensus there is. Asked about a potential flavor ban Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFeinstein to step down as top Democrat on Judiciary Committee Voters want a strong economy and leadership, Democrats should listen On The Money: Biden to nominate Yellen for Treasury secretary | 'COVID cliff' looms | Democrats face pressure to back smaller stimulus MORE (R-Ky.) said he would focus on his legislation that would raise the tobacco purchasing age to 21, "something everybody could agree on." 

Read more on the vaping debate in Congress here


American Medical Association calls for immediate vaping ban

The American Medical Association (AMA) called for an immediate vaping ban for all products not approved by the Food and Drug Administration to help people quit tobacco use, in a release Tuesday.

The AMA voted Tuesday to request federal and state governments boycott the selling of vaping and e-cigarette products. The vote came in response to the recent links to more than 40 deaths and about 2,100 illnesses to vaping.

"It's simple -- we must keep nicotine products out of the hands of young people and that's why we are calling for an immediate ban on all e-cigarette and vaping products from the market," AMA President Patrice Harris said in the statement. "With the number of young people using e-cigarettes spiking it is not only critical that there is research into nicotine addiction treatments for this population, but it is imperative that we continue efforts to prevent youth from ever using nicotine." 

Read more here


ObamaCare enrollment continues to dip in week three

More than 737,000 people selected plans on healthcare.gov in week three of open enrollment, which ran from Nov. 10 through Nov. 16. 

In all, 1.7 million people have selected plans since open enrollment began Nov. 1. But that's still below the number of people who had enrolled in coverage by this point last year when 1.9 million people had selected plans. Part of that drop can be explained by the first week of the open enrollment period being one day shorter this year than it was last year. But that can't explain the entire gap, said Josh Peck, who ran ObamaCare outreach for the Obama administration and founded Get America Covered, an organization that promotes open enrollment. 

"There is an acute lack of awareness that enrollment is happening, a huge perception gap between how much people think HealthCare.gov plans cost and how much they actually cost, aggressive marketing campaigns for short term plans, as well as continued uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act among the uninsured," Peck said in his weekly analysis of enrollment numbers. 


What we're reading

Critics say 'junk plans' are being pushed on ACA exchanges (Washington Post)

Affordable mental health care? It's getting even tougher to access (Kaiser Health News)

Contractor proposed Glamour magazine profile for Medicaid chief (Politico)

The startlingly high cost of the 'free' flu shot (Kaiser Health News)

U.S. shelves plan to sharply cut nicotine in cigarettes (Bloomberg)


State by state

America's 'Shame': Medicaid funding slashed in U.S. territories (NPR)

Duluth, others must decide whether to join in massive opioid lawsuit or go it alone (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)


Op-eds in The Hill

It's time to close the gap between adult and pediatric medical devices

Presidential candidates should use their platforms to elevate oral health