Overnight Health Care: New drug price hikes set stage for 2020 fight | Conservative group to spend $4M attacking Pelosi drug plan | Study finds Medicaid expansion improved health in Southern states

Overnight Health Care: New drug price hikes set stage for 2020 fight | Conservative group to spend $4M attacking Pelosi drug plan | Study finds Medicaid expansion improved health in Southern states
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Welcome to Tuesday's Overnight Health Care.

A new study shows the positive effects of Medicaid expansion, drug price hikes to start 2020 are putting a microscope on Congress's failure to pass sweeping legislation, and a conservative group is out with new ads against Pelosi's drug pricing bill.

We'll start with drug prices... 



New drug price hikes set stage for 2020 fight

Price hikes on hundreds of prescription drugs to start the year are leading to intensifying calls for action from lawmakers and advocates, putting new pressure on Washington.

Drug companies kicked off the year by raising prices on a wide range of treatments by an average of about 5 percent, according to the consulting firm 3 Axis Advisors. 

"Enough is enough," Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor Pelosi, Democrats using coronavirus to push for big tax cuts for blue state residents US watchdog vows 'aggressive' oversight after intel official fired MORE (D-Calif.) tweeted, pointing to the hikes and calling on the Senate to pass her signature legislation to lower drug prices "now."

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyBurr says intelligence watchdog should be 'independent' after inspector general firing Lawmakers press IRS to get coronavirus checks to seniors Pelosi floats undoing SALT deduction cap in next coronavirus bill MORE (R-Iowa) also pointed to the increases to call for action on drug prices. 

Drug price hikes at the start of a new year are common, but the latest round followed a year in which lawmakers and the administration spoke optimistically about reining in higher prices.


Don't necessarily bet on big action, though: The prospects for anything actually being signed into law this year with an election ahead are decidedly murky. 

Republicans are fiercely opposed to Pelosi's bill to allow the government to negotiate prices, calling it "socialist." And even Grassley's somewhat more modest proposal has drawn opposition from many Republican senators, who worry that a provision limiting Medicare drug price increases to the rate of inflation is a "price control."

You can expect more scrutiny on drugmakers: Advocates hope the election-year spotlight spurs action.

“This is an issue that the American people are paying attention to,” said David Mitchell, founder of the advocacy group Patients for Affordable Drugs Now. “They’re going to have a chance to speak their mind in early November, and they are going to be looking to see who did something to actually lower their drug prices.”

Read more here


In related news… 


Conservative group to spend $4M attacking Pelosi's drug pricing plan

A conservative group plans to spend $4 million on an advertising campaign targeting Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) drug pricing plan. 

The American Action Network -- a group aligned with House GOP leadership, that also takes money from the pharmaceutical industry -- will air the ads in 28 House districts, including some where Republicans are running competitive races in 2020, including GOP Reps. David SchweikertDavid SchweikertHispanic Caucus campaign arm unveils non-Hispanic endorsements Carper staffer tests positive in Delaware The Hill's Morning Report - Biden commits to female VP; CDC says no events of 50+ people for 8 weeks MORE (Ariz.), Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisTrump says election proposals in coronavirus stimulus bill would hurt Republican chances Hillicon Valley: Facebook reports huge spike in usage during pandemic | Democrats push for mail-in voting funds in coronavirus stimulus | Trump delays deadline to acquire REAL ID Democrats press for more stimulus funding to boost mail-in voting MORE (Ill.) and Scott PerryScott Gordon PerryTop conservatives pen letter to Trump with concerns on fourth coronavirus relief bill House Republicans press Trump officials on plans to contain coronavirus at border DCCC to run ads tying 11 House Republicans to Trump remarks on entitlements MORE (Pa.).

Democrats plan to run on the issue of high drug costs in 2020, touting their House-passed plan, which would require the federal government negotiate lower prices for drugs covered by Medicare.

"These members of Congress have a better plan: one that will make prescription drugs more affordable for patients and kickstart the innovation of new drugs and cures patients need right now," said American Action Network President Dan Conston. 

Republicans argue the Democrats' bill would lead to fewer drug developments in the U.S., but Democrats say current laws allow companies to unfairly price their products.


Read more here.


Study finds Medicaid expansion improved health in Southern states

A new study finds that Medicaid expansion improved people's health in Southern states, resulting in fewer declines in people's health. 

The study published in Health Affairs finds that Medicaid expansion made declines in health status 1.8 percentage points less likely in states that expanded medical coverage. 

"We found that Medicaid expansion was associated with lower rates of self-reported health declines and a higher likelihood of maintaining baseline health status over time," the study finds. 

Big picture: Resistance to Medicaid expansion has been declining, with multiple red states accepting the expansion in recent years, often through ballot initiatives that put the question to voters in the state. 


Medicaid expansion passed by ballot initiative in Utah, Nebraska and Idaho in 2018. 

Florida and Texas are still two big holdout states that have not expanded and have large populations. 

Read more here


Also today

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that there is no statistically significant link between the use of baby powder and ovarian cancer. The study, comes as baby powder manufacturer Johnson & Johnson faces millions of dollars in punitive damages in court cases over its talcum-based products.

Georgia's newest senator, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), will join the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and fill a spot left open with the retirement of Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonLoeffler traded .4M in stocks as Congress responded to coronavirus pandemic Loeffler under fire for stock trades amid coronavirus outbreak The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden riding wave of momentum after stunning Super Tuesday MORE (R-Ga.). Loeffler, a former business executive, was sworn in Tuesday to succeed Isakson.



What we're reading

Researchers: Some pet products touted as CBD don't have any (AP)

Every American family basically pays an $8,000 'poll tax' under the U.S. health system, top economists say (The Washington Post

Washington took a decade to approve an obscure drug-pricing bill. That's a bad omen for more ambitious reforms (Stat)


State by state

How Idaho's governor plans to pay for Medicaid expansion in the state (KIVI TV)

California vaping bill would ban all flavored tobacco sales in stores (Los Angeles Times)

In Massachusetts, minors need permission for abortion, but that could change (Kaiser Health News


From The Hill's Opinion page:

How non-compete clauses shackle physicians and hurt patients

Congress must address surprise medical billing in 2020 -- and change its approach