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Trump tries to muddy the waters on healthcare and pre-existing conditions: President Trump said Thursday that he would speak to and win over any Republicans that don't support insurance protections for sick people, defending against a popular line of attack by Democrats. “All Republicans support people with pre-existing conditions and if they don’t, they will after I speak to them,” Trump tweeted. “I am in total support. Also, Democrats will destroy your Medicare, and I will keep it healthy and well!” Democrats have criticized Republicans for not supporting pre-existing condition protections in attempting to repeal Obamacare.

The problem with Trump’s stance: Trump's Justice Department, however, is supporting a lawsuit from state-level Republican officials that seeks to end Obamacare's pre-existing condition protections.

Trump doesn’t actually have a plan to protect people with pre-existing conditions: Trump has not said how he will protect coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, and has not offered a plan for if the lawsuit against Obamacare is successful.

House Republicans argued that the Obamacare replacement they passed last May, and that Trump supported, would have maintained coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. But the reality is complicated. The bill would have allowed states to waive certain protections for pre-existing conditions for people who do not maintain continuous insurance coverage. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said that the bill would have jacked up insurance costs to unaffordable levels for people with pre-existing conditions that live in the states. But Republicans have defended the bill by saying that they added $8 billion for high-risk pools and a requirement for states that get waivers to install high-risk pools. However, numerous experts say that the $8 billion was not enough to adequately cover claims from sick people.

Politically, though, Trump is right that healthcare is a top election issue: The Wesleyan Media Project found in its latest report out Thursday that between Sept. 18 and Oct. 15 nearly half, or 45.9 percent, of ads in the race for the House and Senate mention healthcare, while 30.2 percent of gubernatorial races mention it. Healthcare was mentioned in 54.5 percent of Democratic ads and 31.5 percent of Republican ads.

Welcome to Philip Klein’s Daily on Healthcare, compiled by Washington Examiner Managing Editor Philip Klein (@philipaklein), Senior Healthcare Writer Kimberly Leonard (@LeonardKL) and Healthcare Reporter Robert King (@rking_19).  Email for tips, suggestions, calendar items and anything else. If a friend sent this to you and you’d like to sign up, click here. If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email and we’ll add you to our list.

Next year’s March for Life theme will be ‘pro-science.’ The 2019 March for Life will focus on the role of medical and technological advancements in affirming the anti-abortion movement, organizers announced Thursday, a theme that touts science to bolster the anti-abortion argument. “Science is behind the pro-life movement,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, in an announcement for the theme — “Unique from Day One: Pro-life is pro-science” — for the January anti-abortion march. “We see that medical and technological advancements always affirm the pro-life movement," she said. "For example, DNA is present at fertilization and no fingerprint on earth, past, present, or future, is the same.” The 46th annual march will take place on Jan. 18, the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, which made abortion a constitutional right. The theme is the latest instance of the anti-abortion movement using new studies on fetal development to advance their case for restricting abortion.

Seven things Democrats will do if they win back the House. Democrats are projected to win back the House in the November midterm elections, and they are already planning a muscular agenda of setting their own policy priorities for the first time since 2010 and investigating the Trump administration. Controlling the House doesn't mean Democrats can pass any bill they want into law — a split Senate will continue to act as a hurdle and Trump still has the power to veto bills he doesn't like. But Democrats would still be able to set the agenda in the House. Here are seven things they're likely to try.

Verma pushes back on proposals to let Medicare set drug prices. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma criticized Democratic proposals to have Medicare set drug prices, saying at a Brookings Institution event Thursday that Medicare Part D, the portion of the program for pharmaceuticals, has already been effective at negotiating prescription drugs and helps patients have more options. Trump had also proposed letting Medicare set prices when he was running for office, but has since abandoned that position.

“Part D has been a success, because instead of a government bureaucracy making decisions for patients, the Part D program protects a patient’s ability to choose the plan that is right for them,” Verma said. “Beneficiaries know which drugs are covered in a particular plan, the premium, and the level of cost sharing. The patient can choose the plan that meets their needs, and make trade-offs between costs and quality. They make the decision – not the government.” The administration is giving Medicare Part D more tools to negotiate prices.

HHS to cover medicines for uninsured Floridians affected by Hurricane Michael. The Trump administration said that thousands of uninsured Floridians could get free replacements of any critical meds lost during Hurricane Michael. Health and Human Services announced Thursday that it will activate the Emergency Prescription Assistance Program, in which 4,900 Florida pharmacies currently participate. “I encourage citizens in Florida who can use this assistance to take advantage of it to ensure they have an adequate supply of the medicines they need,” said Robert Kadlec, the assistant secretary for preparedness and response. Hurricane Michael ravaged the Florida Panhandle and has left at least 20 people dead according to the latest figures reported by the Associated Press.

Arthritis patients could see higher drug prices under Trump plan, study says. A Trump administration plan to lower drug costs for seniors on Medicare could end up forcing seniors to pay hundreds of dollars more for their arthritis medication, according to a new analysis. The pharma-funded study from the consulting firm Avalere Health found that Medicare patients with rheumatoid arthritis could pay more for their drugs under a proposal in the administration’s blueprint released last May to tackle high drug prices.

Pennsylvania Obamacare rates to dip slightly in 2019. Pennsylvania on Thursday approved a 2.3 percent average decrease for Obamacare rates for 2019, the latest sign that Obamacare's insurance exchanges are stabilizing across the country after massive rate hikes for 2018. The state’s insurance regulator also announced that a new carrier would enter the Obamacare exchange in 2019, bringing the total statewide to six. The data is roughly in line with an estimate from the Trump administration that showed the average premium for Obamacare will decrease by 1.5 percent. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf attributed the rate decrease to his administration’s work to counteract regulations and directives from the Trump administration that undermine Obamacare.

Tom Price’s campaign committee doles out $55,000 to Georgia campaigns. Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has doled out $55,000 to campaigns and George Republican Party groups from his congressional campaign committee. Price resigned from his Cabinet position last September as he and other members of the Trump administration faced scrutiny for their use of private or military aircraft to travel instead of commercial flights. Price currently is serving on the advisory board of Jackson Healthcare, and remains involved in Georgia politics as his wife Betty Price is a member of the Georgia House of Representatives.


The Hill Michigan pharmacist who denied miscarriage drug no longer in job

STAT News Feds crack down on stem cell clinics that touted autism treatments, blindness cures

New York Times Republican candidates soften their tone on healthcare as leaders dig in

Morning Consult Why Democrats are running on healthcare

Wall Street Journal New York City Health Department to lead national charge to cut sugar intake

Politico House GOP leader McMorris-Rodgers faces Obamacare backlash

Forbes Opioids lawsuits on par to become largest civil litigation agreement in U.S. history

Arizona Republic Medical group yanks endorsement of Rep. Debbie Lesko over ‘phony’ doctor ads


FRIDAY | Oct. 19

House and Senate in recess until after the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

Noon. G-50 Dirksen. Alliance for Health Policy event on “Flexibility and Innovation in Medicaid.” Details.


White House to host event commemorating “a year of historic action to combat the opioid crisis.”