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MUST-WIN OHIO DECLINES TO JOIN TRUMP EFFORT TO OVERTURN OBAMACARE: Ohio, a red-leaning presidential battleground state, is opposing a lawsuit President Trump backs that would invalidate Obamacare, signaling the difficulty he faces trying to resurrect the issue for the campaign.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, a Republican, told the Washington Examiner’s David Drucker that the lawsuit's success would do unacceptable harm to his state.
“We’ve got 1.9 million, nonelderly Ohioans who have preexisting conditions. If this exercise in judicial activism in Texas holds, it’s going to impact my state. Those people are going to be left without insurance coverage for those preexisting conditions,” Yost told the Washington Examiner. “The way I explain this to people is, we’ve got a tumor, the patient has a tumor, you cut out the tumor; you don’t kill the patient.”
Trump, who won Ohio in 2016 and can't afford to lose it in 2020, is framing his reelection partly as a referendum on the Affordable Care Act. His administration is siding with a group of GOP-led states who sued last year in federal district court and won a ruling that all of Obamacare should be struck down as a result of zeroing out the fine on the uninsured in the tax. The law has remained in place pending appeals. If the Supreme Court weighs in, that might not happen until after the 2020 election.
Yost, 62, was elected attorney general last year in a midterm election that was less severe for Republicans in Ohio than elsewhere. But even in a state that is mostly friendly to Trump, Yost has declined to sign onto the lawsuit to throw out Obamacare that the president is essentially running on in 2020. Rather, Yost has filed an amicus brief against the lawsuit. It is a prime example of how the politics of Obamacare have changed.
Yost, conceding that “not everybody’s happy” with his decision to break with Trump, emphasized that Ohio would not join the countersuit brought by a coalition of Democratic-led states.
Additionally, the attorney general agrees with the part of the challenge spearheaded by Texas that argued that the individual mandate to purchase insurance is unconstitutional, but not that its unconstitutionality disallowed the entire law.
“There’s a broad support for leaving your kids on your insurance until you’re 26, there’s abroad support for protection against pre-existing conditions,” he said. “I haven’t joined the Democrats’ [countersuit]. But I don’t agree with [a lot of] Republicans, either.”
Good morning and welcome to the Washington Examiner’s Daily on Healthcare! This newsletter is written by senior healthcare reporter Kimberly Leonard (@LeonardKL) and healthcare reporter Cassidy Morrison (@CassMorrison94). You can reach us with tips, calendar items, or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. If someone forwarded you this email and you’d like to receive it regularly, you can subscribe here.
ALEXANDER WANTS VOTE ON HEALTH PRICES BY SUMMER: Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, said on the Senate floor Thursday that he would like to see the upper chamber vote early in the summer on a bill to lower healthcare prices. The committee received more than 400 recommendations from economists, doctors, patients, and think tanks about how to lower the cost of healthcare and improve patient outcomes. The recommendations include increasing transparency, lowering prescription drug costs, eliminating surprise billing, expanding primary care, improving electronic health records, and addressing consolidation.
BIPARTISAN SENATORS CALL FOR SANCTIONS TO STOP FENTANYL FROM CHINA: A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation Thursday sanctioning drug traffickers to strong-arm China into following through on its pledge to slow the supply of the deadly opioid fentanyl to the U.S.
The bill, the Fentanyl Sanctions Act, would deny traffickers U.S. visas, prohibit drug traffickers from doing business with U.S. banks, and direct U.S. officials to publicly identify foreign opioid traffickers. It would also establish a commission on synthetic opioid trafficking to make additional recommendations.
The unveiling of the legislation comes just days after Chinese public health officials on Monday announced a ban on fentanyl, fulfilling a promise President Xi Jinping made Trump in December. Senators said at a press conference Thursday that they doubted Chinese officials were sincere in their promises.
APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS KENTUCKY LAW REQUIRING ULTRASOUNDS BEFORE ABORTION: A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld a Kentucky law that requires doctors to have pregnant women undergo ultrasounds, view the images, and listen to the fetal heartbeat before having an abortion.
The judges, from the 6th Circuit, ruled 2-1 that the law did not violate a doctor's First Amendment rights to free speech, writing that the information gleaned from an ultrasound was "pertinent" to a woman's decision-making.
TRUMP DRUG PRICING PLAN LANDS AT OMB: The Trump administration’s proposal, aimed at reducing drug spending, would allow insurance companies that run the prescription drug portion of Medicare known as Part D to require that, before issuing a prescription, doctors try certain less expensive drugs first, or require doctors to check with an insurance company. The plan specifically applies to what are known as the “six protected classes” of drugs, which now allow patients with serious health conditions, from HIV to schizophrenia, to receive any drug that their doctor determines is best to treat them.
HOUSE APPROVES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAW WITH NEW TRANSGENDER PROTECTIONS: The House Thursday approved reauthorization and expansion of a domestic violence protection law that adds new protections for transgender people.
The measure, authored by the Democratic majority, passed mostly along party lines. It updates the Violence Against Women Act, originally passed in 1994 and expanded in 2013, but which lapsed during the recent government shutdown. New provisions would require the Bureau of Prisons to house prisoners based on gender identity. It would also provide transgender women access to women’s shelters.
DEMOCRATS INTRODUCE BICAMERAL PUBLIC OPTION BILL: Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. Introduced public insurance option legislation Thursday alongside Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. The measure is intended to allow Americans to choose a healthcare plan through Medicare in addition to the Obamacare exchanges. The proposal comes amid the Trump administration’s challenges to ACA constitutionality in the courts.
FDA WILL INVESTIGATE MAKEUP PRODUCTS FOR CANCER-CAUSING ASBESTOS: Claires has removed 11 products from shelves from December 2017 to last month after the FDA found they contained asbestos. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., ranking members of the HELP Committee asked the FDA to keep investigating makeup brands, especially those marketed to teenagers, which could also contain carcinogens.
GOTTLIEB TO RETURN TO AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Gottlieb will return to AEI as a resident fellow in health policy studies. Gottlieb first joined AEI in 2002, and his last day at the FDA is Friday.
TRUMP FORCES CHINESE BUYER OUT OF HEALTH STARTUP PATIENTSLIKEME: The Trump administration ordered that China-Based majority owner of PatientsLikeMe, a health tech startup, sell its shares due to national security concerns. PatientsLikeMe is an online health network that connects people with similar medical conditions. The company’s majority owner is iCarbonX, which was founded by a Chinese genomicist.
HOWARD SCHULTZ: ABORTION SHOULD BE BANNED IN THIRD TRIMESTER: Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is considering running for president as an independent, said he is for abortion rights, but “there should be no abortion that is in the last trimester.” Schultz said he may turn away Republicans who are anti-abortion from voting for him if he runs for president, but he wants to be honest about his stance.
LINDSEY GRAHAM LOOKS TO HELP STATES THAT ALLOW POLICE TO SEIZE GUNS FROM DANGEROUS PEOPLE: Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he will start writing a bill next week to give police more power to preemptively seize guns from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others. The proposed legislation would give grants to states that pass extreme risk protection orders, also known as “red flag laws,” which allow judges to authorize police to temporarily seize someone’s guns without notice if a person is believed to be a danger.
WHO DATA SHOWS EBOLA OUTBREAK IS GETTING WORSE: The number of confirmed and probable Ebola cases in the Congo has climbed to 1,100, with 690 deaths, according to the most recent count on April 2. World Health Organization Ebola Treatment Centres have faced an uptick in massacres by militant groups, stalling efforts to contain the outbreak and limit virus transmission.
Washington Post ‘I’m agnostic’: Pelosi questions whether Medicare-for-all can deliver benefits of Obamacare
The Hill Dems struggle to unite behind drug price plan
Kaiser Health News On the border, volunteer doctors struggle to provide stopgap care to immigrants
PBS News Hour Why expensive, unproven stem cell treatments are a new health care trend
FRIDAY | APRIL 5
Scott Gottlieb’s final day as Food and Drug Administration commissioner.
SUNDAY | April 7
April 7-9. Marriott Marquis. American Hospital Association annual meeting. Agenda.
TUESDAY | April 9
9:30 a.m. 1225 I St. NW. Bipartisan Policy Center event on “Comparative Effectiveness Research: Recent Findings and Future Investments.” Details.
10 a.m. 226 Dirksen. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “Abortion Until Birth: The Need to Pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” Details.
10 a.m. Rayburn 2008. House Appropriation Committee’s Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on the Indian Health Services budget.
10:15 a.m. 215 Dirksen. Senate Finance Committee hearing with pharmacy benefit managers. Details.
WEDNESDAY | April 10
10:30 a.m. 2322 Rayburn. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. Details.