Overnight Healthcare

Overnight Health Care: Trump reportedly lashed out at health chief over polling | Justices to hear ObamaCare birth control case | Trump rolls back Michelle Obama school lunch rules

Welcome to Friday's Overnight Health Care. It's been a busy day ahead of the long weekend.

The Supreme Court is taking up yet another case involving ObamaCare's birth control mandate, an anti-abortion group is launching their 2020 effort to reelect President Trump, and three U.S. airports will begin screening passengers for the Chinese Coronavirus.

But we'll start with some late breaking news about Trump's relationship with his health secretary.


Trump lashing out at health chief

President Trump lashed out at Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Thursday for not doing enough to help him win over voters on health care, according to multiple reports.

According to the reports, Trump phoned Azar after being presented with polling that showed voters trust Democrats more than Republicans on health care and drug pricing.

Trump's problem: The president has made lowering drug prices a top focus of his presidency, and has been searching for easy political wins, but has little to show for it. Key initiatives have been blocked by the courts, and others have been stalled amid opposition from fellow Republicans.

According to the Washington Post, Trump told Azar he was "not getting it done," and needed to "hurry up" on lowering drug prices and more quickly allow for the importation of drugs from Canada, asking: "Why aren't we getting these drugs from Canada?"

In December, the administration issued a proposal that would lay the groundwork to allow states, pharmacies, wholesalers and manufacturers to import prescription drugs from Canada. 

Importing drugs from abroad is a departure from the traditional Republican approach, but Trump has long supported the idea, even as it faces significant headwinds.

Trump also regrets vaping policy: According to Axios, Trump also pressed Azar about the administration's new vaping policy, and expressed regret for getting personally involved in something he should have left to the Food and Drug Administration to sort out. 

Trump wants to seize the health care mantle from Democrats by highlighting actions he says will lower costs, promote public health and challenge special interests. But the president faces an uphill battle, especially with regards to ObamaCare. While Trump has tried to defend his record with misleading statements and tweets, Democrats aren't letting voters forget his repeated efforts to repeal and undermine the law. 

Read more on Trump and Azar here.


Programming note

Overnight Health Care will return Tuesday. Have a good long weekend! 


Supreme Court to take up Trump appeal in ObamaCare birth control case

Big news from the Supreme Court: The Court on Friday agreed to hear the Trump administration's appeal in a legal fight over religious exemptions for ObamaCare's requirement that employer-based health plans cover birth control.

The administration is seeking to expand exemptions for religious objectors to the Affordable Care Act's so-called "contraceptive mandate."

It will mark the third time the Supreme Court has heard a case regarding the mandate, a controversial provision of ObamaCare that has been fiercely opposed by conservatives and religious groups for years. 

The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to overturn a nationwide injunction issued by a lower court blocking the rule from taking effect. 

The rule would allow most businesses to claim a religious exemption to the mandate and opt out of covering contraception for their employees.

Read more on what's next here


CDC to begin airport screenings for cases of new Chinese virus

Public health officials are implementing enhanced health screenings to detect ill travelers heading to the United States from Wuhan, China, in response to an outbreak of a new type of coronavirus. 

Beginning Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said travelers from Wuhan will undergo entry screening for symptoms at San Francisco, New York's John F. Kennedy, and Los Angeles international airports, which receive most of the travelers from Wuhan.

The agency is deploying about 100 additional staff to the three airports to supplement existing staff at CDC quarantine stations located at those airports.

The virus, which can cause both the common cold and more severe diseases like SARS, has left two people dead and at least 40 people sickened in central China. It has since spread to Japan and Thailand, but the cases have all occurred in travelers from Wuhan.

Read more here


Anti-abortion group launches 2020 campaign program 

The Susan B. Anthony List and its partner super PAC will visit 4 million voters in key battleground states in its mission to re-elect President Trump and other anti-abortion Republicans.

The effort is part of the group's overall $52 million budget this cycle, but a spokesperson did not say how much would be spent on campaign activities. 

"This shows the growth of SBA List over time and our ability to impact elections and policy," said Mallory Quigley. 

For context, the organization's budget for the 2017-2018 cycle was $28 million. 

SBA List's election efforts will include door knocking, voter contact mail, phone calls and digital ads, with a focus on key presidential and Senate battleground states, including Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Iowa, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. 

The strategy focuses on reaching out to "unreliable pro-life voters" and other "persuadable" voters, including Hispanics, Independents, Democrats and moderate Republicans to ensure they vote in November against candidates who support abortion rights. 

"By educating persuadable voters, including even those who consider themselves pro-choice but see extreme positions like support for late-term abortion, infanticide and abortion activists posing as federal judges as a bridge too far, we can help deliver the votes decisive for victory," SBA List's National Campaign Director Tim Edson wrote in the memo. 

SBA List will hire a state director, regional field staff and 100-200 paid, professional canvassers. 

"As we have in the last three election cycles, we anticipate that SBA List-Women Speak Out PAC efforts will impact tens of thousands of votes in key races, providing the margin of victory," Edson wrote. 


Trump to roll back Michelle Obama's school lunch rules on vegetables, fruits

The Trump administration on Friday announced plans to roll back school lunch standards on vegetables and fruits originally promoted by Michelle Obama, unveiling the proposal on the former first lady's birthday.

The new standards will allow schools more flexibility "because they know their children best," the Agriculture Department said in a press release.

"Schools and school districts continue to tell us that there is still too much food waste and that more common-sense flexibility is needed to provide students nutritious and appetizing meals. We listened and now we're getting to work," Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said.

The proposed new rules build on previous steps taken by the Trump administration to roll back the controversial school lunch rules which were championed by Obama as part of her Let's Move! healthy living campaign and signed into law by former President Obama.

Read more here


What we're reading

The Netherlands has universal health insurance -- and it's all private (Vox.com

Health Care Costs Are Rising. Fund Returns Are Less Reliable. (New York Times)

Boston Hospital Leader: U.S. Health Care Has A Bureaucracy Problem (WBUR


State by state

New Jersey passes laws to preserve ObamaCare amid court fight (Associated Press)

She had Medicaid insurance. After a car wreck, a Miami hospital billed her for $20,000 (Miami Herald)