Overnight Health Care: Officials confirm 34 total coronavirus cases in US | ObamaCare favorability hits highest level in poll | McSally unveils bill to lower drug prices amid tough campaign

Overnight Health Care: Officials confirm 34 total coronavirus cases in US | ObamaCare favorability hits highest level in poll | McSally unveils bill to lower drug prices amid tough campaign
© Getty Images

Welcome to Friday's Overnight Health Care. There are now 34 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S., health officials said Friday. Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyNew rule shakes up Senate Armed Services subcommittees The Seventeenth Amendment and the censure of Donald Trump Ex-astronaut Mark Kelly jokes about piloting congressional subway MORE (R-Ariz.) introduced a bill aimed at lowering drug prices as she faces a tough reelection campaign. Meanwhile, ObamaCare's popularity has hit its highest level.

Let's start with the latest coronavirus news... 



Officials confirm 34 total coronavirus cases in U.S.

U.S. health officials said Friday there are 34 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States as the virus continues to spread from its epicenter in China. 

Officials broke the number down, saying 21 cases are people repatriated by the State Department, many of whom were evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan. 

There are also a separate 13 cases not affiliated with the State Department repatriations. 

Officials said the virus is still not spreading among the general public in the United States, but left open the possibility that could happen.  

"It's very possible, even likely, that it may eventually happen," said Dr. Nancy Messonier, a top official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Read more here.



ObamaCare favorability hits highest level: poll 

Some good news for ObamaCare supporters ahead of the law's 10th anniversary next month: The law's favorability hit a record high in a new poll released Friday. 

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds that 55 percent of the public views the health law favorably, the highest level since KFF began polling the question about 10 years ago. Just 37 percent said they view it unfavorably.

The history: ObamaCare was long viewed more unfavorably than favorably, especially during the troubled rollout of the healthcare.gov website in late 2013.

But that changed with President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot Trump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged MORE's election in 2016, when favorability began rising amid the Republican push to repeal the law in 2017. 

The health care law has now become a political asset for Democrats, who highlighted Republican repeal attempts to help win back the House in 2018. The law's protections for people with pre-existing conditions have been particularly popular.  

Other poll findings

  • In 2016, 29 percent of Republican voters listed ObamaCare repeal as their top health care issue. Now it's 3 percent. 
  • 52 percent of the public favors Medicare for All, while 66 percent favor an optional government health insurance plan.
  • 26 percent of independents and 27 percent of Republicans favor a public option, while the numbers for full-scale Medicare for All are just 6 percent and 4 percent, respectively. 

Read more here


McSally unveils bill to lower drug prices amid tough campaign

There's a pretty interesting drug pricing bill from Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), who is facing a tough election campaign this year. 

The bill is noteworthy because it includes some ideas usually more associated with Democrats, including allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, but only in limited instances where there is a lack of market competition after a patent expires but when the company still has a monopoly. 

Details of that proposal, which will be key for understanding its breadth, were not available yet on Friday. McSally's office said legislative text will be available next week. 


The politics: McSally is putting an increased focus on drug prices as she faces the campaign this year. 

Jacob Peters, a spokesman for the expected Democratic Arizona Senate nominee, Mark Kelly, said McSally is trying to undue her past health care record, including voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act. 

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 JoyceThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Which path will Democrats take on COVID-19 bill? Jim Jordan says he won't run for Senate in 2022 Ohio lieutenant governor won't run for Portman's Senate seat MORE (R-Ohio) and Rep. Paul TonkoPaul David TonkoDrug overdose crisis worsens in shadow of COVID-19 pandemic Key House Democrat urges 'economywide' approach to climate change Reversing the Trump administration's numerous harmful efforts to censor science MORE (D-N.Y.). RSVP today!



Next week

It will be a busy week on the hill next week when Congress returns from President's Day recess. Here's what we're watching: 



9:30 a.m.: Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar will testify on the agency's budget request before the House Appropriations Committee. 

1:30 p.m.: Azar will also testify on the budget request and the coronavirus before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.




9 am: The House Committee on Oversight and Reform will hold a hearing titled "the administration's religious liberty assault on LGBT rights." 

10 a.m.: Azar will testify on the HHS budget request before the House Ways and Means Committee. 

2 p.m.: The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the coronavirus response, with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield testifying. 


What we're reading: 

Harmed before birth, America's 'lost children' overshadowed by opioid crisis (Politico

The coronavirus is spreading outside China, narrowing hope to eliminate it (STAT)

Stalled initiatives to curb drug prices frustrate Trump (The Wall Street Journal)


State by state 

Will Virginia get a full Medicaid dental benefit? Advocates say it could be life-altering for poor patients. (Virginia Mercury

Senate panel advances bill to provide birth control to more under Medicaid (ksl.com)