Overnight Health Care: Faith-based health clinics spurn contraceptives under Trump rule | Senate punts vote on bipartisan health costs bill | Azar calling GOP senators to back Grassley drug price plan
Welcome to Wednesday’s Overnight Health Care.
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Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller Day: What to watch for This week: Mueller dominates chaotic week on Capitol Hill Top Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats MORE dominated cable news today, but there was still plenty of health care news.
The Senate Health Committee decided that its health cost bill won’t get a floor vote until after the August recess. HHS, meanwhile, is trying to build support for a bipartisan Senate drug pricing bill, Allergan recalled breast implants, and a federal judge blocked abortion restrictions in Arkansas.
But we’ll start with some news about the Trump administration’s changes to a federal family planning program:
Faith-based health clinics spurn contraceptives under Trump rule
The Trump administration’s effort to reshape a decades-old, federally funded family planning program has its roots in Southern California, where one faith-based group wants to be the “pro-life” Planned Parenthood.
Obria Medical Clinics, which opposes contraception and teaches abstinence, recently became the first group of its kind to receive federal funding through a family planning program established by Congress in 1970 to support clinics and organizations providing low-income women with birth control and other reproductive health care services.
The controversial move by the administration was praised by anti-abortion groups that see Obria’s inclusion as one of the first steps to reforming Title X, the federal program that has long been a key source of Planned Parenthood’s government funding.
The shift also indicates where the administration is headed as it prepares to implement changes to Title X that bar Planned Parenthood from the program while placing an emphasis on faith-based family planning clinics that don’t provide abortions.
“Many women also want the opportunity to visit a professional, comprehensive health care facility — not an abortion clinic — for their health care needs,” Obria CEO and founder Kathleen Eaton Bravo said in a statement to The Hill. “Obria gives women that choice.”
Why it matters: Documents obtained by The Hill through a Freedom of Information Act request reveal how Obria plans to run its Title X project, which will serve an estimated 12,000 patients at 21 service sites in four California counties.
The most controversial aspect of the project, which is blasted by reproductive rights organizations, is the fact that 13 of those sites don’t offer contraceptives like birth control pills, condoms and IUDs.
Read more here.
Azar calling GOP senators to back Grassley drug price plan
It’s a big day on Thursday for drug pricing, with the Senate Finance Committee set to mark up a bipartisan package.
With some GOP senators raising concerns over the deal, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar is working the phones to try to build support for the deal, sources say.
Why it matters: Many GOP senators have concerns with the proposal, worrying that it is too close to price controls on drugs, which Republicans have traditionally opposed.
The support from the administration could help ease concerns, although President TrumpDonald John Trump Ocasio-Cortez about as well known as top Democrats: poll Protestor yelling about Trump Tower meeting thrown out of Mueller hearing Chris Wallace: ‘This has been a disaster for the Democrats’ and ‘for the reputation of Robert Mueller’ MORE himself has not tweeted or commented publicly on the measure.
Asked if the White House’s support factors into his decision, Sen. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoPot banking bill supporters seek path to passage in skeptical Senate Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Sanders mounts staunch defense of ‘Medicare for All’ | Biden, Sanders fight over health care heats up | House votes to repeal ObamaCare ‘Cadillac Tax’ | Dems want details on fetal tissue research ban Hillicon Valley: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency plan | Trump vows to ‘take a look’ at Google’s ties to China | Google denies working with China’s military | Tech execs on defensive at antitrust hearing | Bill would bar business with Huawei MORE (R-Idaho) said, “It certainly is a factor, but it’s not the entire factor.”
Preview: There are 110 amendments to the bill.
Read more here.
Senate will not vote on bipartisan health costs bill before leaving for August
A long-awaited bipartisan bill in the Senate aimed at controlling drug costs will not get a vote before Congress leaves town for the month of August.
Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderSenate will not vote on bipartisan health costs bill before leaving for August Grassley gambles on drug price bill despite GOP doubts Finding a path forward to end surprise medical billing MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySenate will not vote on bipartisan health costs bill before leaving for August Grassley gambles on drug price bill despite GOP doubts Finding a path forward to end surprise medical billing MORE (D-Wash.) said in a joint statement that the Senate “does not have time before the August recess” to consider the bill.
Alexander had pushed for the measure to get a vote this month. Alexander and Murray are now expressing hope that the Senate will vote on the bill upon returning in September.
Industry opposition: The Senate Health Committee approved the measure in an overwhelming 20-3 vote in June, but since then the measure has run into some resistance.
Powerful doctor and hospital groups have been fighting the measure over its provision aimed at protecting patients from getting massive “surprise” medical bills from out-of-network doctors.
Doctors and hospitals are worried that the way the provision is set up will end up cutting their payment rates.
Alexander has been in talks with Sen. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidySenate will not vote on bipartisan health costs bill before leaving for August 2 Republican senators introduce resolution to label antifa as domestic terrorists Finding a path forward to end surprise medical billing MORE (R-La.) about changing the surprise billing provision to address some of doctors’ concerns.
A range of other senators have placed “holds” on the legislation for various reasons.
Read more here.
Judge blocks Arkansas abortion restrictions
A federal judge in Arkansas blocked three new abortion restrictions late Tuesday, just hours before they were scheduled to take effect.
U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker, an Obama appointee, granted the temporary restraining order, blocking the state from enforcing the restrictions for 14 days. They would have:
- Banned abortions in most cases after 18 weeks of pregnancy.
- Banned physicians from performing abortions if the mother asks for one solely because the fetus was diagnosed with Down syndrome.
- Required doctors providing abortion be board certified in obstetrics and gynecology.
Why it matters: The ACLU argued that its plaintiffs in the case — the state’s lone surgical abortion clinic — would have been forced to shut down under the laws.
What’s next: Baker could issue another temporary restraining order after the 14 days passes or she could issue an injunction blocking the restrictions from taking effect while the laws are being challenged in court.
Read more here.
Allergan recalls certain breast implants due to rare cancer risk
Pharmaceutical company Allergan on Wednesday issued a worldwide recall of a type of textured breast implant due to the risk of a rare type of cancer.
The Food and Drug Administration had asked for the recall after new information showed a direct link between Allergan’s BIOCELL textured breast implants and tissue expanders and a rare type of lymphoma, called breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma.
Allergan link: FDA said it has found 573 unique cases of cancer, and 33 patient deaths across the world. Specifically, of those 573 cases, 481 are attributed to Allergan implants. Of the 33 patient deaths, the manufacturer is known in 13 cases. Of those, 12 are Allergan implants.
FDA said the cancer link was first discovered in 2011, but new evidence linked the disease with Allergan’s implants specifically. As recently as a few months ago, the agency was not taking any action.
“Once the evidence indicated that a specific manufacturer’s product appeared to be directly linked to significant patient harm, including death, the FDA took action,” FDA deputy commissioner Amy Abernethy said in a statement.
More on the recall here
Sanders unveils plan to address racial disparities among health care professionals
Sen. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders Ocasio-Cortez about as well known as top Democrats: poll Climate protesters glue themselves to Capitol doors, confront lawmakers House passes bill opposing BDS, exposing divide among Democrats MORE (I-Vt.) unveiled a plan Wednesday seeking to boost the number of black employees in the health care industry as the White House hopeful works to shore up support in Democratic presidential primary.
Sanders’s campaign unveiled the plan shortly after he appeared at a presidential forum in Detroit for the NAACP National Convention. The plan would work to train and hire more black health care providers and supplement his “Medicare for All” plan.
“We must not only guarantee health care to all as a right, but also end the long-standing racial disparities that exist within the health care system,” Sanders said in a statement.
The plan would expand the National Health Service Corps, Community Health Centers and Teaching Health Centers to hire more doctors and nurses of color to underserved areas and boost the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program to help train more African American primary care physicians.
Read more here.
The Hill event
Policy Prescriptions: Lowering Drug Prices
For many Americans, rising prescription drug prices are taking a toll not only on their wallets, but also their health. On Thursday, July 25th, The Hill will sit down with Sens. Mike BraunMichael BraunThe Hill’s Morning Report — Mueller day finally arrives GOP leaders struggle to contain conservative anger over budget deal Overnight Health Care: Grassley gambles on drug price bill despite GOP doubts | Newly opened migrant children shelter could close this week | FDA warns company over CBD claims MORE (R-Ind.) and Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinThe Hill’s Morning Report — Mueller day finally arrives Overnight Health Care: Grassley gambles on drug price bill despite GOP doubts | Newly opened migrant children shelter could close this week | FDA warns company over CBD claims The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Backlash over budget deal MORE (D-Wis.) for conversations examining how to lower drug prices for patients while ensuring they have access to life-saving medications. RSVP today.
What we’re reading
Summer setbacks: The long road to lower drug prices hits some potholes (Kaiser Health News)
Lawmakers blast Juul over the company’s role in teen vaping epidemic (CNBC)
Fitbits and other wearables may not accurately track heart rates in people of color (Stat)
Thousands of unaccompanied migrant children could be detained indefinitely (CBS News)
State by state
Missouri Medicaid panel chairman removed amid drop in rolls (AP)
New Texas anti-abortion group vies for family planning funds (Politico)
Massachusetts moves to negotiate Medicaid drug prices (WBUR)
From The Hill’s opinion page:
The cost of a ‘right’ to health care is liberty