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Latest Morning Briefing Stories

Dems’ Drug Pricing Bill May Be Destined For Eventual Death In Senate, But Its Political Life Is Only Just Beginning

KHN Morning Briefing

It’s likely that Democrats are viewing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s drug pricing bill as a political tool rather than a realistic goal. The legislation is already being used in ads for vulnerable Democrats and candidates are planning to tout it as a main component of their health care agendas. “Republicans will spend the next year defending their decision to block Medicare from lowering prescription drug prices for everyone,” said Jesse Ferguson, a veteran Democratic messaging consultant. After Pelosi secured a deal with the progressive wing of her party, the House is set to vote on the bill on Thursday.

Exclusivity Provision For Biologic Drugs Stripped From Trump’s Trade Deal In Win For Dems, Slap In Face For Pharma

KHN Morning Briefing

Democrats argue that enshrining a 10-year guarantee in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement would have tied Congress’ hands if lawmakers wanted to change the threshold. “This deal would have caused prices of prescription drugs in those countries to skyrocket,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). Pharmaceutical lobbyists were harsh in their assessment: “This was an unforced error and very, very weak negotiating.”

Escalating Public Feud Between Azar And Verma Reaching ‘Soap Opera’ Levels Of Melodrama

KHN Morning Briefing

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has now summoned HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CMS Administrator Seema Verma to meet at the White House this week to see if they can continue to work together amid the bickering. Meanwhile, allegations continue to emerge about who is leaking what information and the motives behind the riff.

Buttigieg Reveals Blue Cross Was One Of McKinsey Clients He Worked On Prior To Insurer Slashing 10% Of Workforce

KHN Morning Briefing

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg drew fire on the presidential campaign trail for his consulting work for McKinsey. Buttigieg says he “never worked on a project” inconsistent with his values, and maintains that although he worked with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan during his tenure, he focused on expenditures like rent, utilities and company travel. Two years after he worked on the case, the insurer cut up to 1,000 jobs.

Justices Appear Sympathetic To Insurers In ACA ‘Risk Corridor’ Case: ‘Why Doesn’t The Government Have To Pay?’

KHN Morning Briefing

The government promised to cushion the blow for some insurers if they entered the health law marketplace, but then Congress stripped the money out of the budget. The insurers say they are owed $12 billion. From the questions during the oral arguments it seems like the Supreme Court justices may agree, though both Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito were skeptical of some of the insurers’ points.

UnitedHealth To Acquire Specialty Drug Provider Diplomat Pharmacy At A Steep Discount

KHN Morning Briefing

“This combination will expand the innovative specialty pharmacy and infusion solutions OptumRx can offer to the consumers and clients we serve,” said John Prince, the chief executive of OptumRx, a division under UnitedHealth. In other health industry news: cigarette stocks rebrand, a former executive pleads guilty to fraud, Banner Health agrees to a settlement over a data breach.