Latest Morning Briefing Stories
Judge Patty Schwartz, writing for the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, said the Affordable Care Act plainly states that women must be provided preventive health services. The Trump administration’s rules that would allow employers to deny workers insurance coverage for birth control due to religious or moral objections sparked an immediate court challenge when rolled out in November.
Republican lawmakers are taking a new look at the options to replace the health law in case the court challenge working its way toward the Supreme Court is successful. The party has long struggled to craft replacement legislation, and had in previous months abandoned efforts to do so.
Former Vice President Joe Biden rolled out his health plan Monday morning following a weekend of trading jabs over “Medicare for All” with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Biden’s plan would include the creation of a public option as well as the elimination of the existing cap on health care tax credits to make coverage more affordable. The proposal solidifies Biden’s stance as one the health law’s biggest defenders in a race where health care has become a dividing topic between the candidates.
President Donald Trump’s drug pricing strategy received its second major blow this week on the announcement that the proposal to eliminate drug rebates in Medicare and Medicaid plans will be withdrawn. In January, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said that the proposal had “the potential to be the most significant change in how Americans’ drugs are priced at the pharmacy counter, ever.” But the changes met significant pushback from insurers and hospitals who worried the proposal wouldn’t force drugmakers to lower prices and would likely see higher profit margins from it. Looking forward, Trump will be left considering ideas that are more popular with progressives than his party.
A pricey treatment offered hope to a family with a daughter with a rare defective gene that causes spinal muscular atrophy. The therapy must be administered before the age of 2, but the family is locked in a fight with its insurance company over coverage. In other pharmaceutical news: the use of PrEP in the fight against AIDS, Massachusetts’ governor’s drug plan, clinical trial data, and more.
California already covers low-income children regardless of immigration status, but now has become the first state in the country do go further to young adults. Meanwhile, the Democratic debate thrust the issue into the national spotlight after the candidates showed support for expanding health care coverage for everyone in the country. Meanwhile, border arrests are finally dropping, but still remain high.
Republican Governor Chris Sununu’s announcement came on the same day that lawyers in a federal case that could overturn the Affordable Care Act hold oral arguments.
During closely watched oral arguments over the constitutionality of the health law, a federal appeals court voiced skepticism that a central feature of the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, though it appeared to struggle with whether that meant the legislation should be struck down in its entirety. Media outlets take readers inside the courtroom for the play-by-play. Meanwhile, what will happen if the law is struck down? The potential headaches go beyond the big headlines about loss of coverage to calorie information on menus, lactation rooms, and more.
Gov. Chris Sununu is delaying the penalties tied into the legislation for 120 days as the state continues its outreach efforts to make people aware of the requirements. “Making sure we get this right is just absolutely paramount,” said Sununu. “So the idea of giving ourselves another 120 days to move forward on this and get the implementation where we need it to be, it’s not just fair to the system, but it’s fair to those individuals.” New Hampshire is just the latest state to struggle with the implementation of the work requirements.
Many legal experts across the political spectrum are dubious about the fate of the latest court case challenging the constitutionality of the health law. But should the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules against the ACA following oral arguments today, that all but guarantees it will end up in front of the Supreme Court — with its decision coming right before the 2020 elections. In the last election cycle, protecting the health law proved a winning issue for Democrats.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit will hear oral arguments on Tuesday in the high-profile lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the health law. The issue is on a likely path toward the Supreme Court, which would put it center stage in the 2020 elections. Although Republicans have adamantly pushed to overturn the law, that position did not prove successful for them in the most recent election cycle.
Former congressman John Delaney said at the Democratic presidential candidate debate that because of Medicare rates, if “Medicare for All” was enacted, all hospitals would close. The Washington Post Fact Checker explains why that’s not really true.
Health experts say in the long run it’s better for people in the country regardless of immigration status to receive care, but the idea could be a hard political sell. Only 6 in 10 Democratic voters support the idea, and, more broadly, 60 percent of Americans oppose it. But, with all the news on immigration recently, it’s likely to play a leading role in the 2020 elections.
“You have these two very low-probability, but very negative events … that almost all investors think have a close to zero probability of actually happening but the time to get clarity on that is still quite extended. Time is the main issue here,” Evercore analyst Michael Newshel said.
The 181 million taxpayers with employer-sponsored coverage could miss out on the benefits of 2020 hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders’ plan. And even those receiving Medicaid could pay more, health policy analysts tell Bloomberg. Meanwhile, Sanders emerged out of the debates as the front-runner in terms of who Americans see as the strongest candidate on health care.
The $4.6 billion humanitarian aid package had a long journey through Congress ending on President Donald Trump’s desk Monday. It will provide funding to try to help alleviate some of the strain at the border. Meanwhile, the president poked at California’s recent decision to expand health care to certain residents regardless of immigration status.
2020 Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris told reporters after Thursday night’s debate that she had interpreted the question as referring to a personal choice and clarified that she did not support eliminating private insurance completely. The topic is politically fraught, which few of the candidates at last week’s debate jumped to support.
The drafters of the legislation, facing fierce opposition, had to make some compromises that led the public option to being much more moderate than originally intended. As the rest of the country starts to shift toward universal health care as a goal, there can be lessons learned about what kind of obstacles states and federal lawmakers will face. In other state insurance news: health law insurers are still making money off the exchanges, a church pays off medical debt, a look at Blue Shield’s decision to cover digital coaches, and more.
On the second night of the 2020 Democratic debates only Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) raised their hands when asked if they would get rid of private insurance in favor of “Medicare for All.” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said she supported Sanders’ plan, but added the stipulation that there would need to be a transition period built in. Others on stage, including former Vice President Joe Biden, championed universal care, but wouldn’t abolish the private insurance industry to get there.
The bill, which Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) worked on with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), addresses a sweeping array of health care topics from prescription drugs to surprise medical bills. The package also includes a bill from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) to raise the age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21.