Overnight Health Care: Lawmakers weigh measure to fight high drug prices | Panel advances HHS nominee | Dems question move to end mental health registry

KeepHealthCare.ORG – Overnight Health Care: Lawmakers weigh measure to fight high drug prices | Panel advances HHS nominee | Dems question move to end mental health registry

Lawmakers are considering adding a measure aimed at fighting high drug prices to an upcoming spending deal, in what would be a rare defeat for the powerful pharmaceutical industry.

The measure, known as the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples Act, is intended to prevent branded drug companies from using tactics to delay competition from cheaper generic drugs. It is co-sponsored by a set of unusual bedfellows in both parties.

The bill therefore could be a rare instance in which Congress acts against high drug prices, something the public rates as a top priority in polls.

A Senate GOP aide said the measure looks likely to pass. “This has been talked about and it looks probable at this point,” the aide said.

Read more here


Senate Dems push for health center funding in spending bill

Senate Democrats are pushing for additional health-care measures like funding for community health centers to be included in a short-term funding bill this week ahead of a impending government shutdown.

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenWeek ahead: Senate takes up surveillance bill This week: Time running out for Congress to avoid shutdown Senate Finance Dems want more transparency on trade from Trump MORE (Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said at a press conference with Democratic leaders on Wednesday that he wanted the community health center funding added, as well as an extension of programs for home visits from nurses and for rural healthcare.

He argued it was wrong for Republicans to include delays of ObamaCare taxes, such as the health insurance tax, without addressing those programs.

“We feel really strongly about community health centers, visiting nurses, rural health extenders being left out and yet a big corporation like UnitedHealth will benefit from the health insurance [tax] delay,” Wyden said. “All those folks got big relief at the end of the year [in the tax-reform bill].”

Read more here.


House Republican leaders appear to be within striking distance of enough votes to pass a short-term funding bill to avoid a shutdown and shift the fight to the Senate. The Hill’s Melanie Zanona has the latest on the spending negotiations.


Dems question decision to end registry for substance abuse, mental health programs

Top Democrats in the Senate are questioning the Trump administration over its decision to end a national registry for evidence-based mental health and substance abuse programs.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) ended the contract for the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP) earlier this month, calling it a flawed and ineffective system.

“We are concerned that freezing NREPP means individuals and communities that may benefit from these new programs will not be able to learn about them or access them, and that the freeze also may hamper the work being done around the country to develop important interventions at a time when we are in the midst of a heroin, fentanyl and opioid epidemic and we need them more than ever,” five Democratic senators, led by Sen. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanTrump signs bipartisan bill to combat synthetic opioids Seth MacFarlane: Idea of Trump, Oprah match-up ‘troublingly dystopian’ Overnight Health Care: Dems press HHS pick on drug prices | Alexander, Trump discuss ObamaCare fix | Senate Dems seek B to fight opioids | Maryland eyes ObamaCare mandate replacement MORE (N.H.), wrote in a letter to Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, assistant secretary for mental health and substance abuse.

Read more here.


Senate panel advances Trump’s nominee for Health secretary

The Senate Finance Committee voted largely along party lines to advance Alex Azar’s nomination to helm the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

His nomination will now head to what appears to be an easy confirmation vote on the floor before the full Senate.

All Republicans voted in favor of Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive and HHS appointee, while Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperSenate Finance Dems want more transparency on trade from Trump Overnight Energy: California regulators vote to close nuclear plant | Watchdog expands Pruitt travel probe | Washington state seeks exemption from offshore drilling plan Overnight Regulation: Fight erupts over gun export rules | WH meets advocates on prison reform | Officials move to allow Medicaid work requirements | New IRS guidance on taxes MORE (Del.) was the only Democrat to support Azar’s nomination in the 15 to 12 committee vote.

Read more here.


Trump to address March for Life via satellite

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDems flip Wisconsin state Senate seat Sessions: ‘We should be like Canada’ in how we take in immigrants GOP rep: ‘Sheet metal and garbage’ everywhere in Haiti MORE is set to address the March for Life, an anti-abortion rights gathering in Washington, D.C., on Friday via satellite, the White House said.

Trump will become the first sitting president to address the rally via a live video. The stream is set to take place from the Rose Garden, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Wednesday.

“The president is committed to protecting the life of the unborn and he is excited to be part of this historic event,” she said.

Read more here.


Opponents urge Congress to suspend ObamaCare tax this year

Opponents of a tax on health insurance are urging lawmakers to suspend the ObamaCare tax starting this year after House Republican leadership unveiled a stopgap spending measure that included a one-year delay.

GOP leaders unveiled the measure late Tuesday as part of their plan to avoid a government shutdown. It included a six-year reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as well as a two-year delay of the Cadillac tax and medical device tax in an effort to get their members on board with another short-term spending bill.

While GOP leaders have pushed to delay the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) for one year starting in 2019, some opponents say the tax needs to be suspended starting in 2018, arguing that it has caused health insurance premiums to rise for millions of people and that rebates would help offset the price hike.

Read more here.


Humana credits GOP tax bill for boost to employee benefits, wages

Health insurer Humana said it will be raising the hourly minimum wage for all of its employees as a result of the GOP tax bill.

The legislation signed by President Trump last month slashed the corporate tax rate in an attempt to boost wages and add new jobs in the U.S.

The lower corporate rate “provides Humana with the opportunity to make an investment in our employees, using the proceeds from tax reform to further the long-term financial health and well-being of our employee population,” the company said in a statement provided to The Hill.

Read more here.


What we’re reading:

Republicans are blaming ObamaCare for the opioid crisis (Newsweek)

ObamaCare didn’t get repealed. So why did the uninsured rate still go up? (Vox)


State by state

Colorado sees increase in ObamaCare signups (Washington Examiner)


Op-eds from The Hill

What America loses by fat shaming the president

Source: http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/overnights/369445-overnight-health-care-lawmakers-weigh-measure-to-fight-high-drug

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