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Latest Morning Briefing Stories

Tactical Decision To Link Medicaid Expansion To Cigarette Tax May Have Tanked Montana Ballot Initiative

KHN Morning Briefing

Supporters thought that strategy would boost their effort with voters, but it attracted Big Tobacco into the fight. As more people look to the success of the three states who were successful in expanding Medicaid through ballot initiatives, the strategy may offer lessons for 2020. Meanwhile, since work requirements were added to Arkansas’ Medicaid program earlier this year, more than 17,000 beneficiaries have lost coverage.

The Government Should Get Into The Generic-Drug Making Business To Curb High Prices, Sen. Warren Says

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Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s bill would establish an Office of Drug Manufacturing that would be required to manufacture at least 15 different generic drugs in its first year where the agency determines there is a failure in the market. Meanwhile, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) is also introducing legislation geared toward high drug costs and increasing transparency in Medicaid funding.

Republicans’ Muted Response To Judge’s Ruling Highlights Shifting Politics, Attitudes About Health Law

KHN Morning Briefing

In theory, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor’s declaration that the health law is unconstitutional without the individual mandate tax should be a victory for Republicans who have been waging a war against the ACA for years. In practice, experts say it may be putting the party in a “lose-lose scenario” with voters. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump maintains that the ruling presents an opportunity for lawmakers to create a better health care system.

‘In Light Of Ambiguity,’ States Want Judge To Clarify Whether Health Law Ruling Has Any Immediate Legal Effect

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In their filing to U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and other Democratic attorneys general also asked for permission to immediately appeal’s his decision that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. For its part, HHS says that since O’Connor had not issued a final judgment or an injunction, the department “will continue administering and enforcing all aspects of the ACA as it had before the court issued its decision.” Meanwhile, Democrats prepare to act to protect the law as soon as they take the majority in the House next month.

Democrats Blast ACA Ruling, Vow To Fight It ‘Tooth And Nail’

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he will try to force a Senate vote to intervene in the federal case while House Democratic leaders plan to order House counsel to defend the health law as soon as they take control of the chamber next year. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama tried to calm any fears that the decision could ultimately strike down his signature domestic achievement.

With Shifting Public Attitudes About Health Law, Ruling Puts GOP In The Hot Seat: ‘Politically, I Don’t Think That It Helps Us At All’

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Republicans just spent months making campaign promises to retain popular provisions of the health law, such as protections of preexisting conditions coverage. The decision to invalidate those measures in a case pushed by Republican attorneys general ties the party, politically, to a decision undercutting those promises. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump touted the decision, calling it “a great ruling for our country.”

What’s Next?: ‘The Main Effect Right Now Is Just A Tremendous Amount Of Confusion’

KHN Morning Briefing

The judge’s ruling, practically speaking, won’t have an immediate impact on the way the health law operates. With enrollment closing on Saturday, the Trump administration said the court decision has “no impact to current coverage or coverage in a 2019 plan.” But the case, seemingly bound for the Supreme Court, now threatens to complicate a wide array of policies and send a shock wave through a marketplace that’s been in upheaval for years.

Health Law Cannot Stand Without The Individual Mandate, Federal Judge Rules

KHN Morning Briefing

In a closely watched case, Judge Reed O’Connor of the Federal District Court in Fort Worth, Texas ruled that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which Republicans zeroed out with their tax bill, “can no longer be sustained as an exercise of Congress’s tax power.” And the rest of the law cannot be separated from that provision and is therefore invalid, he wrote.

Generic Drugmakers Get Year-End Gift As FDA Backs Off Product-Liability Rule Proposal

KHN Morning Briefing

At issue was proposed regulation that would have allowed generic drug companies to update their product labeling when new information about a medicine’s safety is revealed, a move that could open drugmakers up to lawsuits. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and the FDA’s drug-center director Janet Woodcock said in a statement, “We heard from manufacturers that they believed this change would have imposed on them significant new burdens and liabilities.”

‘I Hate To Panic, But …’: Advocates Eye Tomorrow’s Health Law Enrollment Deadline With Trepidation As Numbers Lag

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Some experts, however, say that it’s still too soon to say that fewer sign-ups this year mean fewer people will have insurance coverage in 2019. The unemployment rate fell from 4.1 percent to 3.7 percent over the course of 2018, and it’s also hard to know how many people aren’t showing up on enrollment tallies because they are just sticking with the plan they have.

Gottlieb’s Idea To Help Lower Insulin Prices By Encouraging Competition Doesn’t Impress Industry Experts

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“The starting point is very different for insulin,” said Andrew Mulcahy, a policy researcher. “Will more competitors help bring down prices further? Yes, but it’s starting off from a place where there is already some of that price competition.” Meanwhile, lawmakers in Minnesota, where some diabetics say they are rationing insulin, consider price controls due to the high costs.