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 — 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
© Getty

Welcome to Thursday's Overnight Health Care.

The House passed Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi preparing for House to decide presidency if neither Trump or Biden win electoral college: report Trump seeks boost from seniors with 0 drug discount coupons GOP senators confident Trump pick to be confirmed by November MORE's drug pricing bill, and while it's a big win for the Speaker it's unlikely to go anywhere in the Senate. Meanwhile, the upper chamber confirmed President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments Ocasio-Cortez: Trump contributed less in taxes 'than waitresses and undocumented immigrants' Third judge orders Postal Service to halt delivery cuts MORE's nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration, and the Trump administration approved South Carolina's Medicaid work requirements. 

We'll start with the big drug pricing vote in the House.



House passes sweeping Pelosi bill to lower drug prices

After months of negotiations (and reporters staking out meetings) the drug pricing bill finally passed the House. 

(But it's likely dead in the Senate). 

The bill passed on a largely party-line vote of 230-192. The measure, which would allow the government to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs, is one of House Democrats' top priorities and is expected to be touted by vulnerable Democrats up for reelection next year.

The party is also looking to show that it is focused on kitchen table issues like lowering drug costs even as lawmakers prepare for an impeachment vote against President Trump.

So what's next on drug prices? It is possible that smaller measures to lower drug prices could become law, given a bipartisan push to do something on the topic, but a path forward remains unclear amid divisions and multiple competing proposals. 


This House bill is almost certain to die in the GOP-led Senate, given that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP senators confident Trump pick to be confirmed by November Trump's Teflon problem: Nothing sticks, including the 'wins' Senate Republican says lawmakers can't 'boil down' what a Court nominee would do in one case like Roe v. Wade MORE (R-Ky.) has called it "socialist" and vowed to block it. Republicans warn the measure would hinder the development of new treatments and impose "price controls."

The 2020 angle: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is still going to spend $5 million on Facebook ads in battleground districts to sell the bill, though. 

Read more on the bill here


Senate confirms Trump's FDA pick

The Senate on Thursday confirmed President Trump's nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in a 72-18 vote.

Stephen Hahn, a cancer doctor from Texas, joins the agency at a challenging time as it tries to find a solution to rising youth vaping rates.

While the Trump administration announced it would clear the market of flavored e-cigarette products in September, the president has since said he wants to find a compromise that preserves flavors for adults while keeping them from children.

The FDA is facing pressure from public health groups to follow through on the ban, arguing flavors are fueling a youth vaping epidemic.

Hahn hasn't commented on whether he would clear the market of flavors as FDA commissioner. But his assurances that he would take the issue seriously were enough to garner votes from Senate Democrats who are typically wary of Trump's nominees.

Sens. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinGOP senators confident Trump pick to be confirmed by November Sunday Shows: Trump's court pick dominates Durbin: Democrats can 'slow' Supreme Court confirmation 'perhaps a matter of hours, maybe days at most' MORE (Ill.), Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineTrump taps Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court, setting up confirmation sprint Supreme Court fight pushes Senate toward brink Trump plans to pick Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ginsburg on court MORE (Va.), Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezWatchdog confirms State Dept. canceled award for journalist who criticized Trump Kasie Hunt to host lead-in show for MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' Senators ask for removal of tariffs on EU food, wine, spirits: report MORE (N.J.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyGOP online donor platform offering supporters 'Notorious A.C.B.' shirts Democratic senator calls for 'more flexible' medical supply chain to counter pandemics The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Don't expect a government check anytime soon MORE (Conn.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSenate Democrats introduce bill to sanction Russians over Taliban bounties Trump-backed candidate wins NH GOP Senate primary to take on Shaheen Democratic senator urges Trump to respond to Russian aggression MORE (N.H.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenCongress must finish work on popular conservation bill before time runs out Democrats fear Russia interference could spoil bid to retake Senate Mid-Atlantic states sue EPA over Chesapeake Bay pollution MORE (Md.) are among the Democrats who also voted for Hahn.

Read more about the confirmation here.


Trump officials approve Medicaid work requirements in South Carolina


The Trump administration will allow South Carolina to impose work requirements on certain Medicaid beneficiaries, state and federal officials announced Thursday.

"South Carolina's economy is booming, wages are up, and our unemployment rate is at an all-time low," Gov. Henry McMaster (R) said in a statement. "Competition for workers is fierce and businesses are struggling to fill vacancies. In this economy there is no excuse for the able bodied not to be working."

Under South Carolina's requirements, adults on Medicaid will need to work or volunteer at least 80 hours a month, beginning in July, in order to keep their eligibility.

What's unique: South Carolina restricts Medicaid eligibility to only its poorest residents, meaning the state is poised to become the first to impose work requirements on people who earn below the federal poverty level. South Carolina also did not expand Medicaid under ObamaCare, which means work requirements will be targeting low-income parents.

The politics: The administration, particularly CMS Administrator Seema Verma, has endured a string of high-profile losses in the courts in relation to work requirements. Other states have decided to put their requirements on hold because of expensive lawsuits. Verma can tout the approval of South Carolina's waiver as a victory. 

Read more on the approval here.



Physicians arrested after protesting denial of flu shots to migrants in US custody

At least two volunteer physicians were among a group of people arrested after protesting the refusal of the federal government to give migrant detainees a flu shot.

U.S. immigration authorities blocked the physicians from administering flu vaccines to migrants being held at a border patrol station just south of San Diego. They were arrested earlier this week after demonstrating outside of the facility.

The protests occurred after the Trump administration denied the same group of doctors permission to open a free pilot flu clinic for detained migrants.

According to a Border Patrol spokesperson, the agency has never had a policy to vaccinate detained migrants, and has no plans to implement one in the future.

A spokesperson previously told The Hill that the agency has significantly expanded medical support efforts along the southern border, but "to try and layer a comprehensive vaccinations system onto that would be logistically very challenging."

Tensions between physicians and immigration authorities have been building as a result of the administration's policy of not providing flu shots to detainees in Border Patrol custody. 


A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security mocked the protesters on Twitter, saying the physicians were "radical political activists" who wanted to inject migrants with drugs.

Read more here.


What we're reading 

Drug prices and health care are wild cards in the 2020 election (CNBC)

Former NFL players charged with defrauding league health care program (USA Today)

The turf war between Trump's top 2 health care officials, explained (Vox

Could greater access to Medicaid reduce high death rates for new moms? (PBS Newshour


State by State

PhRMA sues Oregon over drug pricing transparency laws, calling them 'unconstitutional' (Stat News)

Massachusetts marijuana store given OK to resume sales of some vaping products (Boston Globe)


From The Hill's opinion page: 

Kamala Harris dropped out, but let's keep her mental health plan alive

Doping epidemic will persist as long as we expect athletes to be superhuman