Overnight Health Care: Americans with coronavirus reportedly flown home over CDC advice | Dem fight over 'Medicare for All' heats up at debate | House to vote next week on flavored vaping ban

Overnight Health Care: Americans with coronavirus reportedly flown home over CDC advice | Dem fight over 'Medicare for All' heats up at debate | House to vote next week on flavored vaping ban
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Welcome to Thursday's Overnight Health Care.

The flu vaccine is 45 percent effective so far this season, according to researchers, an improvement from last year. Meanwhile, on the coronavirus front, Democrats are pressing President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders says he wouldn't 'drop dead' if Trump decided on universal healthcare Overnight Health Care: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | Democrats ramp up talks with Mnuchin on next relief deal | Fauci says death toll could be around 60,000 Hillicon Valley: State officials push for more election funds | Coronavirus surveillance concerns ramp up pressure for privacy bill | Senators warned not to use Zoom | Agencies ask FCC to revoke China Telecom's license MORE on his administration's work with drug companies to develop a vaccine. They want to ensure any future treatments are affordable. And when Congress is back next week, the House will vote on a bill aimed at reducing youth vaping rates. 

We'll start with more on the coronavirus outbreak... 



Americans with coronavirus were flown home over CDC objections: report

More than a dozen Americans who had tested positive for coronavirus and were flown home alongside others without the virus were transported despite objections from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The Washington Post reported on Thursday.

The 14 Americans who tested positive were among more than 300 who arrived back in the United States earlier this week after being evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, which has been the center of scrutiny over a coronavirus outbreak on board. 

When those individuals tested positive for the virus, U.S. officials had to make a choice as to whether to let them fly home alongside the other passengers.

The State Department and some Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials decided to allow it while the CDC objected, warning of the risk of the disease spreading on the plane, The Post reported.

The plane did have a plastic-lined enclosure that allowed the 14 people with the virus to be separated from the others, according to the newspaper.


Read more here.


House Democrats ask Trump to ensure affordability of future coronavirus vaccine

Dozens of House Democrats wrote to President Trump Thursday to ask that he ensure any future coronavirus vaccines and treatments be "accessible, available and affordable." 

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will help fund efforts by Janssen -- a drug company owned by Johnson & Johnson -- to create a coronavirus vaccine and treatment. HHS is also partnering with French drugmaker Sanofi to produce a potential coronavirus vaccine. 

Rep. Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyHillicon Valley: Google bans Zoom from its work computers | Dem cautions White House against using surveillance to fight virus | Lawmakers push House leaders on remote voting House Dems introduce anti-price gouging legislation House Democrats call on Trump administration to lift restrictions on fetal tissue for coronavirus research MORE (D-Ill.) led 45 House Democrats in warning that HHS should not give an exclusive license to any private manufacturer or risk making the vaccines or treatments unaffordable.

"Providing exclusive monopoly rights could result in an expensive medicine that is inaccessible, wasting public resources and putting public health at risk in the United States and around the globe," the lawmakers wrote. 

"If HHS or any other federal agency moves forward with such a proposal, we urge you to instead issue a limited license and implement requirements that a vaccine or treatment be made available at an affordable price."

Context: The efforts are in the early stages, and it could take years for a vaccine to be available to the public. But Democrats say steps should be taken to ensure those products are affordable for Americans.

Read more here


Another country to watch on the virus: South Korea 

One person has died in South Korea from the new deadly form of coronavirus, health officials said Thursday, marking the first death from the disease in that country.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that a 63-year-old man who died in a hospital was posthumously confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus, while 22 new cases mean the total has risen to 104 in the country, according to The Associated Press.


Twenty-one of the new cases were in the South Korean city of Daegu, whose mayor urged citizens to remain indoors as the city deals with a minor outbreak apparently linked to a church congregation.

"National quarantine efforts that are currently focused on blocking the inflow of the virus [from China] and stemming its spread are inadequate for preventing the illness from circulating in local communities," Daegu Mayor Kwon Young-jin said at a press conference, according to the AP.

Read more here


And in non-coronavirus news...


From last night: A fiery debate on a lot of topics... including Medicare for All


Democratic presidential candidates clashed in some of the strongest terms yet over the "Medicare for All" policy dividing the field at the Nevada debate on Wednesday night. 

A big takeaway, Warren was much more aggressive: Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSteyer endorses Biden for president Biden joins calls to release racial breakdowns of coronavirus cases, deaths The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden faces tough task of uniting Democrats MORE (D-Mass.), who has slipped in the polls recently, in particular went on the attack in ways that she has not before. 

She said former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden faces tough task of uniting Democrats Sanders campaign adviser on what went right and what went wrong Former Clinton staffers invited to celebrate Sanders dropping out: report MORE's plan was "thought up by his consultants" and compared Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: State officials push for more election funds | Coronavirus surveillance concerns ramp up pressure for privacy bill | Senators warned not to use Zoom | Agencies ask FCC to revoke China Telecom's license Senators, bipartisan state officials press Congress for more election funds The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden faces tough task of uniting Democrats MORE's (D-Minn.) plan to a "Post-it note" saying "insert plan here."

Warren has backed Medicare for All but wants to start first with an optional government plan, highlighting the tightrope she has tried to walk on the issue. 

She described her approach as "if we don't get it all the first time, take the win" and then come back for more. 

That is a contrast with Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSteyer endorses Biden for president Sanders says he wouldn't 'drop dead' if Trump decided on universal healthcare Sanders 2020 press secretary: Democratic leadership interested in 'corporate status quo' or 'they're planning to replace Joe' MORE (I-Vt.), the emerging front-runner in the race, who has prided himself on not accepting any middle ground on health care short of full-scale Medicare for All, despite the difficulty in getting the plan through even a Democratic-controlled Senate.

"Two-thirds of the Democratic senators are not even on that bill," Klobuchar said, calling Sanders's plan unrealistic. 


Read more here


This season's flu vaccine is 45 percent effective, researchers say

This season's flu vaccine is estimated to be 45 percent effective, an improvement over previous years, according to a report published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The report, published by researchers from CDC and other several universities, used data from 4,112 children and adults to conclude the vaccine has "significantly" reduced medical visits associated with the flu so far this season.  

The effectiveness of the vaccine could drop as the flu season continues and new strains potentially emerge that aren't protected by the vaccine. 

The vaccine is developed annually to protect against three or four strains of the flu virus that researchers predict will be most prevalent in the upcoming season. 

Why it matters: The CDC says the flu shot is the best form of protection against becoming sick. Experts say flu symptoms can be less severe in individuals who are vaccinated but still become ill. Still, many people go unvaccinated every year, citing concerns about side effects or effectiveness. 

The CDC estimates there have been at least 26 million flu illnesses so far this season, including 14,000 deaths.

Read more here.


House votes next week on flavored vaping ban 

The House will vote next week on a bill aimed at reducing youth vaping rates by banning the sale of flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. 

Anti-tobacco advocates argue flavors like mint and mango have hooked children on vaping, with an estimated 5.4 million middle and high school students using e-cigarettes in 2019, according to government data. 

The bill, sponsored by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Rep. Donna ShalalaDonna Edna ShalalaTrump coronavirus response seen as threat to CDC confidence House Democrats unveil coronavirus economic response package CBS All Access launches animated 'Tooning Out the News' series MORE (D-Fla.), would also ban online sales of e-cigarettes and tobacco products. 

"We must advance this legislation in order to prevent losing another generation to tobacco-related illnesses and premature death," Pallone said in November, when the bill passed his committee, 28-24. While the bill is likely to pass the House, it's not clear if it will get a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate. 

Why it matters: Congress raised the tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21 last year, but advocates argue it needs to do more to curb youth vaping rates. 

The Trump administration's recent policy on flavored e-cigarettes is riddled with loopholes, they argue. 

Read more here



Wednesday, February 26: America's Opioid Epidemic: Lessons Learned & A Way Forward 

Join The Hill on Wednesday, February 26th in downtown Washington, D.C. as we host a conversation about expanding access to treatment and helping those battling opioid addiction begin the journey toward long-term recovery. We will be speaking with Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Rep. David JoyceDavid Patrick JoyceBoeing suspends Washington production, GE Aviation lays off thousands Mnuchin details IRS challenges with cash-only marijuana businesses Democrat: Lawmakers need to approach opioid crisis as 'a chronic situation' MORE (R-Ohio) and Rep. Paul TonkoPaul David TonkoBottom Line Trump administration expected to roll back Obama-era mileage standards As we face coronavirus battle, we must ensure critical supplies of respirators for health care workers MORE (D-N.Y.). RSVP today!


What we're reading

Obamacare A Disgrace? Biden Highlights Bloomberg's Negative Remarks About The ACA (Kaiser Health News)

Here's that Medicare-for-all study Bernie Sanders keeps bringing up (Washington Post)

Bernie Sanders and Medicare for All are at a crossroads with unions in Nevada (CNN)


State by state

West Virginia Senate committee advances Medicaid reserve fund bill (MetroNews)

Utah bill would impose a pre-abortion ultrasound requirement (Salt Lake Tribune)  


The Hill op-eds

We must not turn our heads from the effects of traumatic brain injuries 

Vaccines save children's lives and we need to fund them