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Latest Morning Briefing Stories

A Price Tag On Hope: As Pharma Companies Eye Right To Try, Profit Motives Overtake Any Expected Altruism

KHN Morning Briefing

“Companies cannot be NGOs,” Brainstorm CEO Chaim Lebovits said. “We have to have an incentive.” Health insurers don’t typically pay for treatments that haven’t been approved by regulators or proven to work in clinical trials. That means patients would have to pay for the therapies, which could reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, out of their own pockets.

Trump Proposes Shaking Up Agencies With Model That Hearkens Back To 1950s

KHN Morning Briefing

The changes President Donald Trump wants to make to agencies that oversee government aid are unlikely to come to pass, but they signal the White House’s agenda toward social safety-net programs. Right now the focus is on the Education and Labor Departments, but officials are also looking at programs and offices within HHS.

Long History Of Fraud And Shady Operators Linked To Association Health Plans Has Experts Worried

KHN Morning Briefing

As the Trump administration moves forward with its final rule allowing small businesses and self-employed workers ti get coverage through association health plans, fraud experts are concerned that the “unauthorized or bogus” plans that flooded the marketplace in the early 2000s will crop up again. Meanwhile, New York and Massachusetts will sue the federal government over the rule.

House Republicans’ Budget Plan Would Put Medicare In The Cross Hairs

KHN Morning Briefing

While its not clear the measure would actually get to the floor before the midterm elections, the House Budget Committee’s blueprint shows where Republicans’ priorities lie in the coming years. The budget plan would remake Medicare by giving seniors the option of enrolling in private plans that compete with the traditional program.

Trump Touts ‘Massive’ Savings From Association Health Plans, But Critics Still Say They’re Junk Insurance

KHN Morning Briefing

The Trump administration announced the finalized rule yesterday that would give small businesses access to insurance options like those available to large companies and let them skirt some of the health law’s requirements. While President Donald Trump said the rule will save people “massive amounts of money,” Democrats and others in the health industry say the insurance plans are “junk” and they will further destabilize the marketplace.

As Long-Serving Public Official, VA Nominee Entrenched In ‘Swamp’ Trump Once Said He Wanted To Drain

KHN Morning Briefing

But many say that’s a good thing. “The president is beginning to understand that in order to deal with the swamp, you have to have some people who understand how the swamp works,” said Trent Lott (R., Miss.), a former Senate majority leader. “The idea that anybody who has worked in Washington shouldn’t be involved in Washington is absolutely the wrong way to go.” Robert Wilkie is expected to be approved to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Beneath The Large Profits At A Pennsylvania Nursing Home Lay Rampant Neglect

KHN Morning Briefing

While profits were surging, patients at St. Francis Center for Rehabilitation & Healthcare in Darby, Penn. were suffering from what a state official called “extreme” conditions, including a lack of proper wound treatment and nursing care. Meanwhile, in Florida, in a dispute over death certificates, a judge ruled in favor of the nursing home where residents died following a hurricane.

‘Right-To-Try’ May Now Be Law Of The Land, But That Doesn’t Mean Companies Will Start Offering Up Their Drugs

KHN Morning Briefing

The legislation gives companies more wiggle room, but most say they are not going to use it. Patients are “no better off today with Right to Try than [they were] yesterday,” says Arthur Caplan, head of medical ethics at NYU School of Medicine. In other pharma news: lawmakers want companies to develop new antibiotics but they’re not offering any extra incentives; Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) introduces a bill to increase transparency over patient advocacy group payments; tips on getting around pharmacists’ gag rule; and more.

Azar: ‘There’s Little We Can Do To Stop’ High Premium Increases

KHN Morning Briefing

HHS Secretary Alex Azar, while testifying to Congress Wednesday, defended the Trump administration from claims it was trying to sabotage the health law. Azar also said that President Donald Trump is taking steps to try to make coverage more affordable, such as extending short-term policies and allowing association health plans. The secretary spoke about Medicare, as well.