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Latest Morning Briefing Stories

Following Arrests, Doctors End Protest Over Border Patrol’s Refusal To Give Detained Migrants Flu Shots

KHN Morning Briefing

Several children died in U.S. custody because of the flu and the CDC recommended that migrants are given the vaccine. But officials say that trying to provide flu shots to everyone during the few days they spend in Border Patrol custody does not make sense. A group of doctors launched a protest in response to the refusal that spanned the past three days.

New York Life Eyeing Cigna’s Business That Sells Non-Medical Insurance Through Employers In Possible $6B Deal

KHN Morning Briefing

Cigna has been working to trim debt after last year’s acquisition of pharmacy-benefits manager Express Scripts Holding Co. for $54 billion. In other news from the health industry: a corporation misses the deadline to close the deal on four Verity Health hospitals and a look at the small Medicare reduction that could make a big difference in premiums.

How An IRS Letter About Health Care Coverage Ended Up Saving 700 Lives

KHN Morning Briefing

The letter prompted the recipients to sign up for health coverage to avoid penalties, which in turn prevented premature deaths that would have occurred without it. It was essentially the first rigorous experiment to find that health coverage leads to fewer deaths, a claim that politicians and economists have fiercely debated in recent years

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.