Overnight Health Care — Presented by Philip Morris International — Dems warn Trump against Medicaid block grants | Sanders under pressure on how to pay for 'Medicare for All' | China to allow in US health officials to study coronavirus

Overnight Health Care — Presented by Philip Morris International — Dems warn Trump against Medicaid block grants | Sanders under pressure on how to pay for 'Medicare for All' | China to allow in US health officials to study coronavirus
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Welcome to Wednesday's Overnight Health Care.

The Trump Medicaid block grant guidance is coming tomorrow, and Democratic lawmakers are already pushing back. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHuffPost political reporter on why Bernie fell way behind Biden Schumer: Administration 'must move heaven and earth' to implement new unemployment benefits Biden associates reach out to Holder about VP search MORE isn't interested in talking about how he'll pay for "Medicare for All," and taking heat from his rivals. And the U.S. is readying a team to head to China to study coronavirus. 

We'll start with block grants...



Dozens of House Democrats warn Trump administration against Medicaid block grants

The Trump administration on Thursday is poised to roll out its plan to let states cap some of their Medicaid funding in the form of a block grant, and Democrats are already vowing to fight it.

More than 30 House Democrats are warning the Trump administration that it should not allow states to turn their Medicaid funding into block grants.

The letter, led by Reps. Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Senate overcomes hurdles, passes massive coronavirus bill How campaigns are adapting to coronavirus The Hill's Campaign Report: Three states holding primaries despite coronavirus MORE III (D-Mass.) and Jim CooperJames (Jim) Hayes Shofner CooperAs VA's budget continues to Increase, greater oversight is required Stacey Abrams cheers on Taylor Swift: 'Your activism has inspired Americans' Here are the lawmakers who defected on Iran legislation MORE (D-Tenn.) and signed by 34 other Democrats, argues that block grants are illegal.

"The administration should not issue any guidance encouraging block grant waivers, should reject these waivers and the concept of block grants, and urge any state that is considering this misguided policy to commit its energy to implementing Medicaid as Congress intends," the Democrats wrote. 

The controversial plan has been long sought by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, who will announce it at an event Thursday morning. 


Why a block grant? Under a block grant, states would receive a fixed amount of money from the federal government, regardless of outside circumstances, that they could spend however they see fit without any federal guidelines. Imposing block grants in Medicaid has long been a major conservative goal, and would represent a radical departure from how the Medicaid program operates.

Read more here.



Sanders under increasing pressure on funding for 'Medicare for All'

For a while it was mostly Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenMaryland Legislative Black Caucus pushes for state to release racial breakdown of coronavirus impact Hillicon Valley: T-Mobile, Sprint complete merger | Warren pushes food delivery apps to classify workers as full employees | Lawsuit accuses Zoom of improperly sharing user data Warren calls on food delivery apps to classify workers as full employees MORE (D-Mass.) getting questions on how to pay for Medicare for All. But now her rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is getting some of that scrutiny, especially now that he's rising in the polls. 

Sanders's response: He's been brushing off the questions. When faced with sharp questions on the topic in an interview with CBS News on Friday, Sanders said "nobody knows" how much his plan would cost and that it's "impossible to predict."

Contrast with Warren: Elizabeth Warren, by contrast, laid out a detailed financing plan after months of questions. 

"As detailed as Bernie Sanders's damn Medicare for All bill is, there are some big things left out of it," said Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

Read more here


Appeals court refuses to reconsider ruling striking down ObamaCare mandate

A federal appeals court voted against rehearing a legal challenge to ObamaCare after a three-judge panel struck down the health care law's individual mandate.


The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals voted 8-6, mostly along ideological lines, against rehearing the case, after one of the judges asked for a vote.

Neither party in the lawsuit had asked the circuit court to rehear the case. A coalition of blue states has already appealed to the Supreme Court, which is currently deciding whether to take it up.

The Trump administration has refused to defend the law in court and has cheered on the legal effort to dismantle it.

Read more here.


China to allow US health officials entry to study coronavirus

U.S. health officials have received the "green light" to travel to China to study the coronavirus, lawmakers told The Hill on Wednesday.


"They just got the green light," Rep. Ann WagnerAnn Louise WagnerMembers of House GOP leadership self-quarantining after first lawmakers test positive Wells Fargo chief pledges fresh start for scandal-ridden bank Here are the lawmakers who have self-quarantined as a precaution MORE (R-Mo.) said as she emerged from an all-member coronavirus briefing in the House hosted by Trump administration officials.

"I'm pleased that the CDC and the NIH, and our scientists and research specialists will be over there embedded with the Chinese to actually find out what the scope of the problems is with this virus, to hopefully come up with a cure," Wagner said. 

There are still only five confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., CDC officials said Wednesday, and all are travel-related. An additional 92 patients are under investigation, and they expect to find more cases. 

The World Health Organization on Tuesday received permission from China to send a team of experts to collaborate with the Chinese government.

WHO said the team is going to "work with Chinese counterparts on increasing understanding of the outbreak to guide global response efforts."

Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said on Wednesday that agency experts have been invited to work with the WHO team.



WHO will also reconvene an emergency committee on Thursday to re-evaluate its earlier decision not to declare the outbreak a global public health emergency.

WHO officials on Wednesday also offered praise for China's efforts. WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he has been criticized for praising the communist nation, but he noted China has likely helped to reduce the spread of the virus. U.S. health officials have offered similar sentiments about China's transparency, especially compared with how the country dealt with the SARS epidemic in 2003. 

Read more here.



What we're reading

'Block grants' no more: Trump's Medicaid overhaul has new name, same goals (Politico

Terminally ill, he wanted aid-in-dying. His Catholic hospital said no (Kaiser Health News)

9 things Americans need to learn from the rest of the world's health care systems (Vox.com


State by state

Controversial anti-abortion activist wants a guarantee her new group will be eligible for Title X funding next year (Texas Observer)

California reopens the single-payer debate (Kaiser Health News)

Tensions rise at hearing on proposed NY Medicaid cuts (WAMC)


The Hill op-eds

US government basically declares war on millions of school children