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Latest Morning Briefing Stories

Senate’s Proposed Package To Target High Drug Prices Is A Big Overhaul That Comes With Even Bigger Questions

KHN Morning Briefing

The bipartisan proposal released from the Senate Finance Committee this week has won praise from a number of Washington’s loudest drug pricing advocates, but the magnitude of the proposal has even some of Washington’s most outspoken drug pricing experts grappling with its long-term implications. Meanwhile, HHS Secretary Alex Azar is throwing his weight behind the legislation.

Pregnancy Care Is Poised For A High-Tech Revolution, But Some Worry That Will Cause More Trouble Than It’s Worth

KHN Morning Briefing

Obstetrician-gynecologists are particularly worried about things like faulty or confusing data possibly sending women to their doctors when they don’t need to go or technology that’s simply a waste of money. In other news at the intersection of technology and health care: paying for doctor appointments via apps and an uptick in virtual visits.

Mark Your Calendars: Pelosi Aide Says Long-Awaited House Drug Pricing Bill Will Drop In September

KHN Morning Briefing

“Pharma will argue very hard against drug negotiation of the kind we’re talking about,” said Wendell Primus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s top health care adviser. Progressive House Democrats have been worried for months the plan will not go far enough in taking on drug companies and bringing prices down. Meanwhile, Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) refused to comment on a similarly long-awaited Senate package.

There’s Lots Of Talk About Surprise Medical Bills In Congress, But Ambulance Costs Have Been Left Out Of Conversation

KHN Morning Briefing

Lawmakers across the country and federally have been trying to figure out the best way to address surprise medical bills. But one of the main causes of the problem –ambulance rides — isn’t in any of the proposed legislation. “If you call 911 for an ambulance, it’s basically a coin flip whether or not that ambulance will be in or out of network,” said Christopher Garmon, a health economist at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Meanwhile, legislation in the House over the bills is unlikely to be addressed until after August recess.

Federal Judge Rules ‘Undeniable’ Benefits Of Expanding Short-Term Plans Outweigh ‘Minimal’ Negative Impact

KHN Morning Briefing

The Trump administration issued a regulation last year allowing short-term health care plans to last up to 12 months instead of three. The plans don’t have to adhere to the health law’s strict regulations, so critics blast them as being “junk insurance.” U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, however, ruled that the plans aims to “minimize the harm and expense” for individuals who might otherwise decide not to purchase insurance because of high premiums.

Democrats’ Fault Lines Over Health Care Reveal Deeper Philosophical Differences That Go Beyond One Issue

KHN Morning Briefing

Health care is one of the dividing issues for the crowded 2020 Democratic field, but the candidates’ stances on the issue underscore how different their philosophies can be. Meanwhile, those candidates who support “Medicare for All” are still grappling with the issue of how to pay for it. And The New York Times fact checks President Donald Trump’s rhetoric on the Democrats’ plans.

UnitedHealth Reverses Course, Approves Coverage For $2.1 Million Gene Therapy For Family Racing Against Clock

KHN Morning Briefing

Lauren Sullivan had been trying to appeal UnitedHealth’s initial refusal of the drug for her 21-month-old daughter, Daryn. The girl was running out of time to receive the treatment before her second birthday in October, when the drug has to be administered. The company also approved claims for three other patients. In other news, UnitedHealth beats expectations for the quarter, prompting company to boost earnings guidance.

Biden, Sanders Duke It Out Over Health Care In Public Scuffle That Highlights Party Tensions Over High-Profile Issue

KHN Morning Briefing

Presidential hopefuls Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden would take separate paths on how to address health care, with Sanders going for an overhaul approach and Biden favoring building on what exists. The two philosophies have come to divide a crowded pack of Democrats as the election season starts kicking into gear, and in the past few days Sanders and Biden have been publicly swiping at each other over the issue. Meanwhile, governors are particularly worried about candidates’ rhetoric about getting rid of private insurers.