Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Turf war derails push on surprise medical bills | Bill would tax e-cigarettes to pay for anti-vaping campaign | $2.5M ad blitz backs vulnerable Dems on drug prices

Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Turf war derails push on surprise medical bills | Bill would tax e-cigarettes to pay for anti-vaping campaign | $2.5M ad blitz backs vulnerable Dems on drug prices
© Greg Nash

Welcome to Friday's Overnight Health Care.

Legislation to fix surprise billing is looking unlikely this year, a new bill would make e-cigarette companies pay for anti-vaping campaigns, and a Democratic PAC is launching a major ad buy after the drug pricing vote. 

We'll start with surprise billing...



Turf war derails bipartisan push on surprise medical billing

House and Senate lawmakers thought they had found a bipartisan, bicameral solution to the issue of surprise medical bills. But now, a rival committee has new legislation, and congressional aides say sharp divisions over the legislation makes it unlikely to pass before the end of the year.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenGovernors detail frustrations with Trump over COVID-19 supplies Bipartisan senators call for investigation of TikTok's child privacy policies Hillicon Valley: Facebook permanently shifting thousands of jobs to remote work | Congressional action on driverless cars hits speed bump during pandemic | Republicans grill TikTok over data privacy concerns MORE (R-Ore.) and Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderChina stalled reporting genetic information about COVID-19, angering WHO: report Senate GOP chairman criticizes Trump withdrawal from WHO Trump: US 'terminating' relationship with WHO MORE (R-Tenn.) had been pushing for their deal to be included in a year-end government funding package next week. 

The White House also praised their legislation and called for it to pass this year. 

But aides say the legislation is slated to be left out of the must-pass year-end package, causing deep frustration for backers of the effort, which had been seen as a rare area of possible bipartisan action this year. One of the main reasons for the delay? A rival bill that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealExpanding tax credit for businesses retaining workers gains bipartisan support House Democrats press Treasury on debit cards used for coronavirus relief payments House Democrats' bill would create a second round of direct coronavirus relief payments MORE (D-Mass.) and Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyHouse Republican offers bill to create 'return to work bonus' Expanding tax credit for businesses retaining workers gains bipartisan support Former Texas Rep. Sam Johnson dies at 89 MORE (R-Texas) released on Wednesday. 

Backers of the Energy and Commerce deal are frustrated with Neal, who they say is throwing a wrench in the effort. They also point to the influence of private equity firms that own doctor staffing companies and are running millions of dollars in ads against the Energy and Commerce legislation. 


Neal, though, has called for slowing down, saying more time is needed to work on the policy. 

"Given our jurisdiction, it is crucial that we get this right," Neal and Brady said in a joint statement earlier this week. 

Asked to respond to the criticism of Neal, his spokeswoman, Erin Hatch, pointed to statements of support for his legislation from a variety of doctor and hospital groups. 

Read more on the finger pointing here.


Lawmakers introduce bill taxing e-cigarettes to pay for anti-vaping campaigns

New bipartisan legislation would tax e-cigarette companies, and use the funds to pay for anti-vaping programs in schools. 

Reps. Raja KrishnamoorthiSubramanian (Raja) Raja KrishnamoorthiHouse subcommittee says Trump administration did not adequately screen travelers from Italy, South Korea for COVID-19 Lawmakers push for mental health funding for providers in next aid package FDA grants emergency approval to Swiss firm's coronavirus antibody test MORE (D-Ill.) and Peter King (R-N.Y.) introduced the Providing Resources to End the Vaping Epidemic Now for Teenagers (Prevent) Act in the House to help combat a youth vaping trend that has been dubbed an epidemic by federal health officials. 

The measure is expected to collect $200 million per year, which would be directed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration to craft programs to prevent e-cigarette use at schools. 

The bill also allows state and local health agencies and nonprofits that work with underserved populations to apply with the CDC for grants to carry out the prevention programs at middle and high schools. 

Taking action to prevent youth vaping has become a top priority in Washington amid warnings from government agencies and a rash of illnesses across the country connected to e-cigarettes.

More on the bill here.


Democratic group launches $2.5M in ads backing vulnerable Dems on drug prices


A Democratic group on Friday announced $2.5 million in ads backing vulnerable House Democrats and touting their votes on a bill to lower drug prices. 

The TV and digital ads in 16 House districts are from the group House Majority Forward, which is affiliated with House Majority PAC, a group seeking to maintain House control for Democrats next year.

The ads come after the House passed Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump congratulates Steve King challenger on GOP primary win The Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen Calls for police reform sparks divisions in Congress MORE's (D-Calif.) sweeping bill to allow the government to negotiate lower drug prices on Thursday and House Judiciary Committee Democrats approved articles of impeachment Friday morning. 

More on the ads here.


What we're reading 

How McKinsey infiltrated the world of global public health (Vox)


There have been at least 1,300 flu deaths in the US so far this season, CDC estimates (CNN)

In the fight for money for the opioid crisis, will the youngest victims be left out? (Kaiser Health News)

A research nonprofit shutters TB vaccine effort and lays off scientists (The New York Times)


State by State

New Jersey hospital system hit by cyberattack (The Wall Street Journal)

Group to submit signatures to ban abortion procedure before Christmas (The Detroit News)