KeepHealthCare.ORG – Overnight Health Care: Kentucky gov cancels Medicaid dental, vision benefits | Collins voices skepticism court will overturn Roe v. Wade | Dems press ‘middlemen’ on drug costs
Welcome to Overnight Health Care, Monday recess edition. Congress is out for the Fourth of July week but there’s plenty of news on the health front.
Kentucky’s governor is canceling dental and vision benefits for Medicaid beneficiaries, lawmakers are pressing drug plan “middlemen” about Trump’s drug pricing promise, and the federal government is attacking ObamaCare exchanges. We’ll start in Kentucky, where the governor is dealing with the fallout from a key court decision.
Ky. governor cancels Medicaid dental, vision benefits after losing work requirement ruling
Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin is taking action after losing a big court ruling on his proposed work requirements for Medicaid recipients on Friday, drawing sharp pushback from Democrats.
Bevin is cancelling dental and vision coverage for almost 500,000 enrollees in the state’s Medicaid expansion. The move is “an unfortunate consequence of the judge’s ruling,” Doug Hogan, a spokesman for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, told the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Under Bevin’s Medicaid proposal, along with work requirements, enrollees would have had to earn dental and vision benefits through completing activities like taking classes or searching for a job.
With the proposal blocked in court, Bevin’s administration is now canceling dental and vision benefits altogether.
Read more here.
Background on Friday’s ruling: It was a major setback for Bevin’s proposal and for the Trump administration’s efforts to allow states to impose Medicaid work requirements more broadly.
U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg ruled that the Trump administration did not adequately consider the coverage losses that would result from approving the work requirements, and that omission runs counter to furthering the program’s goal of providing health insurance.
More on that ruling here.
New report shows drop in enrollment for people who don’t get ObamaCare subsidies
A new report from the Trump administration finds that enrollment among people who don’t get ObamaCare subsidies dropped by 1.3 million people (20 percent) between 2016 and 2017 as premiums rose.
Those who do qualify for subsidies (a larger group), were more protected from the increases, and their enrollment only dropped by 3 percent, or 223,000.
The Trump administration argued this shows ObamaCare is failing middle-class people who make too much money to qualify for the subsidies that help them afford insurance.
“These reports show that the high price plans on the individual market are unaffordable and forcing unsubsidized middle class consumers to drop coverage,” said Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma.
Democrats countered, pointing out that the Trump administration has taken actions that caused an increase in premiums, such as the repeal of the mandate to have coverage in the tax law last year.
Read the report here.
House planning vote this month to repeal medical device tax
Vulnerable Rep. Erik PaulsenErik Philip PaulsenJuly vote to repeal medical device tax may bolster vulnerable GOP lawmaker Dem, GOP groups prepare spending blitz for midterms Fighting back against the opioid crisis MORE (R-Minn.) could get a win this month with the House planning a vote to repeal ObamaCare’s medical device tax.
Paulsen says he’s planning to use the issue in his campaign: “We’ve got a lot of little companies that want to become the next Medtronic or Boston Scientific, so, yeah, I’m sure it’s something we’ll be talking about in terms of getting something done in an atmosphere where it’s tougher to get stuff done,” Paulsen told The Hill.
From Paulsen’s Democratic opponent, Dean Phillips: Phillips said in a statement that he supports repealing the medical device tax. But Phillips criticized Paulsen for supporting the GOP tax law passed last year, saying it will lead to lost revenue through “massive tax giveaways to those who need them least.”
In the Senate: The path on repealing the tax is much more in doubt in the upper chamber. But Paulsen is hoping a big vote will apply pressure. “We’re kind of thinking if we get a big vote like that it will actually show the Senate we want to get this done,” Paulsen said.
Read more here.
Warren, Smith wants answers from PBMs on drug pricing
Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJuly vote to repeal medical device tax may bolster vulnerable GOP lawmaker Judge temporarily blocks end to housing assistance for displaced Puerto Ricans Dem senator: ‘Abolishing ICE will accomplish nothing’ unless we change Trump’s policies MORE (D-Mass.) and Tina SmithTina Flint SmithDem senator: If Nielsen doesn’t reunite families, ‘she should resign’ The Hill’s Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — GOP lawmakers race to find an immigration fix Richard Painter puts out ‘dumpster fire’ in first campaign ad MORE (D-Minn.) are keeping up pressure over high drug prices. This time, they are writing to pharmacy benefit managers and drug distributors about HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s claim that those companies are blocking drug price cuts.
The bigger picture: The Democratic senators are trying to hold President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump congratulates Mexico’s new president: ‘I look very much forward to working with him’ Comedian who allegedly prank-called Trump says he has hired Michael Avenatti Ex-Trump aide pushes for Hope Hicks as chief of staff: Trump will ‘listen to women more than men’ MORE accountable for promising “massive” drug price cuts at the end of May. No such cuts have happened yet.
Warren and Smith are asking the companies to respond to Health and Human Services Secretary Azar’s comments that drug companies want to reduce prices but are being blocked by PBMs and drug distributors.
PBMs manage drug benefits for insurers and employers, trying to get the best deal for both parties, but critics have argued that they drive up costs by negotiating secret deals and rebates with drug manufacturers.
“These are extremely disturbing allegations by Secretary Azar,” the senators wrote in letters to the companies
“If they are true, these allegations suggest that PBMs and drug distributors are acting to maintain high list prices in order to maintain high profit margins, potentially raising antitrust concerns.”
Read the letter here.
Republican Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDem senator says Supreme Court vote could be ‘career ending’ for lawmakers Supreme Court battle revives abortion debate Trump doesn’t intend to read Supreme Court pick’s academic writing but wants to know it exists: report MORE (Maine) is skeptical the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, regardless of who is confirmed to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.
In an interview with “The Daily” podcast that was posted on Monday, Collins said she believes Chief Justice John Roberts could be a vote against overturning the ruling.
Key quote: “I think, for example, [Chief Justice] John Roberts given his respect for precedent and his cautious approach, despite what personal views he may hold, I would be very surprised if the chief justice would ever vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, just to give you an example.”
Why Collins’s comments are getting traction: She is seen as a key swing vote in the Senate on Trump’s next nominee to the court. Collins also acknowledged that some nominees who have been floated have signaled they want to challenge the 1973 decision.
Read more on her comments here.
More on the Supreme Court fight…
Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMaxine Waters on criticism from Schumer: Leadership will do anything to protect their power Overnight Health Care: Judge blocks Kentucky Medicaid work requirements | Trump officials consider cuts to ObamaCare outreach | House probes HHS office in charge of migrant children Overnight Health Care: Amazon enters the pharmacy business | Two Republicans to play pivotal role in Supreme Court abortion fight | Senate panel approves medical research boost MORE (N.Y.) is under pressure from the left to whip Democrats hard to oppose any Supreme Court nominee who might vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that established a woman’s right to an abortion.
A majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, a new Quinnipac University poll found.
A pro-ObamaCare group has launched the first television ad focused on health care in the fight over the next Supreme Court justice.
White House counsel Don McGahn will oversee President Trump’s selection of a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, the White House announced Monday.
And President Trump said he has interviewed four potential Supreme Court nominees.
In a sign that public health officials believe the outbreak has been largely contained, Doctors Without Borders will end its involvement in the international response to an outbreak of the Ebola virus in the heart of Africa later this month.Ten lawmakers penned a letter to government agencies on Monday requesting a list of all migrant children separated from parents as a result of the Trump administration’s controversial “zero tolerance” policy.
What we’re reading
Liberal group launches $5 million push against Trump’s SCOTUS pick (Politico)
What Justice Kennedy’s departure means for abortion rights (The Atlantic)
State by state
Missouri hospitals fear fallout from changes to Medicaid (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Abortion fight looms in Florida with Justice Kennedy’s retirement (Politico)
From The Hill’s opinion page
Why we live in Anthony Kennedy’s America, not Robert Bork’s