Welcome to Tuesday’s Overnight Health Care.
A draft of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill’s Morning Report – Can Trump save GOP in North Carolina special election? Democrats race against clock with push for impeachment Democrats play to Trump’s ego on guns MORE‘s drug pricing leaked, a sixth person has died from the vaping related illness, and the number of people without insurance is up for the first time in a decade.
We’ll start with the news on insurance numbers…
Number of uninsured jumps for first time since 2009
The number of people in the U.S. without health insurance jumped by 2 million from 2017 to a total of 27.5 million in 2018, according to census data release Tuesday.
It’s the first time the census survey reported an increase in those without insurance since 2009, before ObamaCare took effect and vastly expanded coverage.
The total uninsured rate increased to 8.5 percent in 2018 from 7.9 percent in 2017.
What’s the reasoning? Census officials said the increase was mostly driven by a drop in the number of people, including children, covered by public programs like Medicaid. The number of kids without insurance also increased from 2017 to 2018 by 0.6 percent. Overall, 4.3 million children didn’t have insurance, an increase of 425,000.
Geographic politics: Kids living in the South were more likely to be uninsured than those living in other parts of the U.S. Between 2017 and 2018, the uninsured rate for children living in the South increased by 1.2 percentage points to 7.7 percent. What do the southern states have in common? Many have either refused to expand Medicaid coverage under ObamaCare, or have added extra administrative requirements, like cost sharing or work requirements.
Attacking Trump: Democrats seized on the numbers, and blamed President TrumpDonald John Trump5 things to watch in critical NC race Remembering 9/11: How the suicide attacks led to two vastly different wars Conservative strategist calls Steyer’s 2020 bid a ‘vanity run’ MORE‘s health agenda. The administration is supporting a lawsuit that would overturn ObamaCare, an issue that helped Democrats win back the House in 2018. His administration has also prioritized policies that would lead to declines in Medicaid enrollment.
Leaked Pelosi drug pricing plan sets off a frenzy
Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) drug pricing plan is out (or at least a draft of it), and it’s setting off a flurry of reactions.
The Progressive Caucus has been pressuring Pelosi to be bolder for months on the plan.
The early verdict from the progressives seems to be cautiously positive, though they noted they still have some concerns.
Basics of the plan:
- HHS secretary would negotiate on the prices of 250 drugs per year.
- Drug companies that don’t negotiate would be hit with a 75 percent fee.
- Lower prices would apply to private insurance as well, not just Medicare.
From the Progressive Caucus: “We are pleased that the leaked draft plan from Speaker Pelosi contains several important CPC priorities, including a direct negotiation proposal instead of arbitration and action to lower prices for all payers.”
Still, they said they had “serious concerns” about whether the fee is a strong enough enforcement mechanism and why there is a cap on the number of drugs to be negotiated.
Big picture: The plan faces very tough odds in the GOP-controlled Senate. Pelosi is banking on Trump’s support to get congressional Republicans on board. But that is far from assured, to say the least.
Sixth person dies from vaping-related illness
Kansas health officials on Tuesday confirmed the first death in the state linked to an outbreak of lung illness that has been associated with using e-cigarettes, marking at least the sixth reported death across the country.
In a statement, Kansas officials said the 50-year old patient “had a history of underlying health issues and was hospitalized with symptoms that progressed rapidly.”
Kansas officials said they do not have detailed information on the types of vaping products that were used by the patient.
However, in a majority of the cases to date, patients reported using e-cigarette products containing elements of marijuana, including THC. The national investigation has also not identified one specific e-cigarette product.
Vaping warnings: Still, federal and state health officials say they don’t want to take any chances and are advising people to stop using any vaping products, whether it’s nicotine or marijuana. “It is time to stop vaping,” said Lee Norman, Kansas secretary of health and environment. “If you or a loved one is vaping, please stop. I’m extremely alarmed for the health and safety of Kansans who are using vaping products and urge them to stop until we can determine the cause of vaping related lung injuries and death.”
In Congress: The House Energy and Commerce Oversight subcommittee on Tuesday announced it will hold a hearing Sept. 25 on the public health risks of e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes are in a regulatory gray area, and Democrats have seized on the vaping illnesses as examples of the dangers of the products. Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state health officials are expected to testify.
Meanwhile, more news about vaping
Bloomberg Philanthropies wants to ban e-cigarette flavors
The organization is launching a $160 million, three-year initiative to end the youth e-cigarette epidemic. The program will be led by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which will partner with other leading organizations including parent and community groups concerned about the nation’s kids and health.
The initiative will support local advocacy efforts in cities and states, including legislative and regulatory measures to remove flavored e-cigarettes from the marketplace, and end marketing practices of e-cigarette companies that appeal to children.
The initiative comes in response to a massive increase in youth vaping. The group cited statistics showing a 78 percent increase in e-cigarette use among high school students in just one year.
It’s not just Bloomberg– states are also working on e-cigarette flavor bans. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed an executive order last week banning the sale of flavored nicotine vaping products in stores and online for at least six months. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said he also wants to enact a similar ban.
California governor signs legislation cracking down on fraudulent vaccine exemptions
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Monday signed legislation aimed at cracking down on doctors who fraudulently write medical exemptions to vaccines for school children.
“This legislation provides new tools to better protect public health, and does so in a way that ensures parents, doctors, public health officials and school administrators all know the rules of the road moving forward,” Newsom said in a statement.
Newsom signed the bills less than an hour after lawmakers sent him some changes he demanded, The Associated Press reported.
The initial bill, SB 276, targets fraudulent medical exemptions to mandatory vaccinations for school-age children.
It requires the State Department of Public Health to create a statewide, standardized request system for licensed physicians to use when documenting a medical exemption for a child they have examined.
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What we’re reading
Pelosi energizes battle to lower drug prices (The New York Times)
Pharma stocks fall as draft of House Democratic drug price plan surfaces on Capitol Hill (CNBC)
Where the top Democratic US presidential candidates stand on ‘Medicare for All’ (Reuters)
State by state
Nebraska district court to hear Medicaid expansion lawsuit (Associated Press)
Medication abortion reversal is “devoid of scientific support,” judge rules in North Dakota (CBS News)
The number of Texans without health insurance continues to climb (kut.org)
California hospitals and nursing homes brace for wildfire blackouts (California Healthline)