Welcome to Wednesday’s Overnight Health Care. Senate Democrats forced a vote on a resolution to overturn the Trump administration’s insurance rules but fell short, and a new study showed the number of uninsured children has topped 4 million.
But we’ll first start over in the House where there’s a fight over drug pricing:
House Democrats clash over Pelosi’s drug pricing bill
Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Pelosi50 Cent meets with Pelosi, lawmakers on Capitol Hill Democrats raise stakes with impeachment vote Overnight Energy: House passes bill to prohibit mining near Grand Canyon| Union says EPA refuses to renegotiate contract | Climate protesters occupy Pelosi’s office over California fires MORE‘s (D-Calif.) signature bill to lower drug prices could come to the floor as soon as mid-November, but House Democrats are not on the same page.
Centrist side: A group of centrists, including Rep. Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyOvernight Health Care: House Dems clash over Pelosi drug pricing bill | Senate blocks effort to roll back Trump ObamaCare moves | Number of uninsured children rises House Democrats clash over Pelosi’s drug pricing bill Hillicon Valley: Amazon poised to escalate Pentagon ‘war cloud’ fight | FCC’s move to target Huawei garners early praise | Facebook sues Israeli firm over alleged WhatsApp hack | Blue Dog Dems push election security funding MORE (D-Fla.), co-chairwoman of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition, has warned leadership that some moderate Democrats might vote against the bill if it moves any further to the left, sources say.
Progressive side: Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalOvernight Health Care: House Dems clash over Pelosi drug pricing bill | Senate blocks effort to roll back Trump ObamaCare moves | Number of uninsured children rises House Democrats clash over Pelosi’s drug pricing bill DC Comics goes viral celebrating #NationalImmigrantsDay MORE (D-Wash.), co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told The Hill, “I really don’t understand” why moderates are objecting to the changes, adding that she was undeterred on pushing for changes.
Among the items progressives want:
- Increasing the number of drugs that would be subject to negotiation under the bill
- Fully repealing the ban on Medicare negotiating drug prices
- Extending protections against price increases into the private employer-sponsored insurance market.
But centrists worry about more changes.
“The further left you go with drug pricing bills, it just means it’s only going to be a House-only bill and a Democrat-only bill,” said Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.), a co-chairman of the Blue Dog Coalition who faces a tough reelection race. “That’s not helping people in my district.”
Read more on the divide here.
Senate blocks effort to roll back Trump administration’s ObamaCare rule
Senate Democrats tried to make a point about pre-existing condition protections in forcing a vote on a Trump administration rule on Wednesday, though it predictably failed amid Republican opposition.
Senators voted 43-52 on the resolution, falling short of the simple majority needed to pass.
Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: House Dems clash over Pelosi drug pricing bill | Senate blocks effort to roll back Trump ObamaCare moves | Number of uninsured children rises The Memo: After Vindman, GOP anxiety deepens Pro-impeachment group pressures vulnerable GOP senators in new ads MORE (R-Maine) was the only Republican to vote for the resolution.
Democrats wanted to overturn a Trump administration rule on so-called 1332 waivers that makes it easier for states to opt out of certain ObamaCare requirements and prioritize cheaper, less-inclusive plans than ones offered under ObamaCare.
Members of the party have termed the plans “junk insurance” because companies can refuse to cover people with pre-existing conditions.
Republicans argued the rule gives states more flexibility.
Read more here.
Lawsuit claims Juul knowingly sold 1 million ‘contaminated’ pods
E-cigarette company Juul knowingly shipped 1 million “contaminated” pods to retailers this year and refused to recall the products or warn consumers, a former executive claimed in a lawsuit he filed against the company this week.
Siddharth Breja, who served as Juul’s senior vice president of global finance in 2018 and 2019, is suing the company for damages, arguing he was “terminated in retaliation” for being a whistleblower.
In the lawsuit filed Tuesday in the Northern District of California, Breja said he was fired after objecting to the shipment and raising concerns about other instances of “illegal and unsafe conduct” that “jeopardized” public health and the lives of consumers.
Juul, which dominates the e-cigarette market in the U.S., has had a tumultuous year as it battles accusations that it purposely marketed to kids.
Meanwhile, federal health officials are investigating an outbreak of lung illnesses among patients that vaped THC and nicotine products.
In his lawsuit, Breja did not say what the shipped pods were allegedly contaminated with, but he noted they were mint flavored — one of the company’s best-selling products.
Why it matters: Anti-tobacco advocates have long-argued e-cigarette companies aren’t careful enough about what they put in their products. That a former employee is alleging Juul knowingly sold contaminated products is a big deal, especially as health officials try to learn more about the outbreak of lung illnesses associated with vaping.
The other side: Juul contends Breja is a disgruntled former employee who was fired for being a bad leader.
“He was terminated in March 2019 because he failed to demonstrate the leadership qualities needed in his role,” the spokesperson said. “The allegations concerning safety issues with Juul products are equally meritless, and we already investigated the underlying manufacturing issue and determined the product met all applicable specifications. The company will vigorously defend this lawsuit.”
Read more on the allegations here.
Biden aide: ‘Alarming’ that Sanders won’t release details of paying for Medicare for All
Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPompeo says Trump-Zelensky call was ‘consistent’ with administration policy Alyssa Milano to co-host Biden fundraiser next month House panel advances resolution outlining impeachment inquiry MORE‘s campaign is attacking Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders campaign hits back at Biden: ‘He is once again peddling dishonest insurance company talking points’ Overnight Health Care: House Dems clash over Pelosi drug pricing bill | Senate blocks effort to roll back Trump ObamaCare moves | Number of uninsured children rises Sanders aide says heart attack ‘personalized’ health issues for voters MORE (I-Vt.) for saying he does not need to release details on how to pay for Medicare for All right away.
It’s alarming that Senator Sanders, who has been up-front for years that Medicare for All would require middle class tax hikes, won’t tell voters “right now” how much more they will pay in taxes because of his plan,” Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement. “If not now, then when?”
She was responding to Sanders’s comments to CNBC, in an interview published Tuesday, when Sanders downplayed the need to release details on how to pay for his signature health care policy.
“You’re asking me to come up with an exact detailed plan of how every American — how much you’re going to pay more in taxes, how much I’m going to pay,” Sanders said. “I don’t think I have to do that right now.”
Big picture: The Biden campaign’s eagerness to hit Sanders on this point shows how central Medicare for All is to the fight between progressives like Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOvernight Health Care: House Dems clash over Pelosi drug pricing bill | Senate blocks effort to roll back Trump ObamaCare moves | Number of uninsured children rises Sanders aide says heart attack ‘personalized’ health issues for voters Krystal Ball: Bernie seems ‘to have a little extra mojo post heart attack’ MORE (D-Mass.) and more moderate candidates like Biden.
Read more here.
Number of uninsured children rises for second year, tops 4 million
The number of uninsured children in the U.S. increased for the second year in a row and now tops 4 million, the most since ObamaCare became law, according to a new report released Wednesday.
According to the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, the number of uninsured children increased by more than 400,000 between 2016 and 2018.
The report found that the increase has wiped out a large share of the coverage gains made since the enactment of the health care law in 2014 and is due in large part to policies championed by the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress.
According to researchers, ObamaCare helped more children obtain health coverage. But beginning in 2017, the number of uninsured children began to rise.
The report specifically cited the confusion surrounding the administration’s failed attempt to repeal ObamaCare, the successful elimination of the law’s individual mandate and a months-long delay in funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
In addition, the report cited the Trump administration’s decision to dramatically cut ObamaCare outreach and enrollment grants while also shortening the open enrollment period.
Why it matters: It follows a larger trend of growing uninsured rates under the Trump administration, which the Census has largely attributed to people dropping or losing Medicaid coverage.
Read more on the numbers here.
What we’re reading
Johnson & Johnson’s own expert, working for FDA, found asbestos in baby powder (Reuters)
How Americans split on health care: it’s a 3-way tie (The New York Times)
Warren: ‘I’m glad to talk to Bernie’ about Medicare for All (CNN.com)
ObamaCare tax at issue as Humana cuts hundreds of jobs (WDRB Louisville)
State by state
Maine ACA enrollment expected to drop as state continues its Medicaid expansion (Press Herald)
Health care is on the ballot in state elections starting next week (Vox)
The Hill op-eds
Can we afford more unintended consequences?
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