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WHITE HOUSE WORKING ON SECRET HEALTHCARE PLAN WITH THREE CONSERVATIVE THINK TANKS: The White House is quietly working on a healthcare policy proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act, multiple sources with knowledge of the matter have told the Washington Examiner’s Emily Ward.
While it is not clear how far along the process is, work on a proposal has been going on for months. The effort appears to belie criticism that Trump's decision to restart the debate on healthcare was an error committed without forethought.
“The White House, mainly through the National Economic Council, has been engaged on thinking about healthcare reform for a while now, and they have been engaged with a group of center-right health policy groups to talk about various proposals and ideas,” a conservative health policy analyst told the Washington Examiner.
The analyst said the administration has been “having conversations” on healthcare policy and has reached out to numerous think tanks, including the Heritage Foundation, the Mercatus Center, and the Hoover Institute.
“They’ve had conversations for the last several months and as recently as a few weeks ago,” the analyst said. “Before the president said what he said, they’d been consistently focused on working on a healthcare plan.”
Policy leaders at several conservative think tanks confirmed to the Washington Examiner that a healthcare plan is indeed the works and said it would take concepts from the Graham-Cassidy bill, by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and the Health Care Choices proposal, which was signed by many conservative policy leaders, including the Heritage Foundation and former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa. One analyst said a White House proposal would most likely be brought up in the Senate first.
Heritage Foundation Director of Domestic Policy Studies Marie Fishpaw noted that the president has already included concepts from the Health Care Choices proposal in his 2020 budget.
The proposal, according to Fishpaw, “would lower premiums by up to a third, lowering costs while also protecting people with pre-existing conditions.” It would replace federal payments to insurance companies with grants for each state, giving individual states more leeway to determine how to use the money.
One conservative policy analyst said that although the White House is definitely “exploring” the healthcare issue, it does not seem ready to unveil a proposal.
“I don’t think there’s anything that’s fully formed,” the analyst said. “I think a lot of the devil’s in the details.”
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.
WHITE HOUSE TO SEND ‘PRINCIPLES’ FOR OBAMACARE REPLACEMENT PLAN TO CAPITOL HILL: Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday the Trump administration will send “principles” to Congress for crafting a replacement plan for Obamacare.
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Mulvaney pushed back on the notion that Republicans lack a clear path forward should the courts rule the entirety of Obamacare is unconstitutional. He said the White House would be sending guidance to Congress with principles to help guide it in crafting legislation.
“We’re doing the same thing on this that we did with taxes. Remember, when we started with taxes, people criticized us for not giving enough details. What did we do? We sent principles to the Hill,” Mulvaney said. “ …From that, following the proper legislative progress we had a tremendous tax bill that passed into law.”
SUPREME COURT WON’T TOSS PLANNED PARENTHOOD LAWSUIT AGAINST ANTI-ABORTION GROUP THAT SECRETLY TAPED THEM: The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress' request to throw out a lawsuit from Planned Parenthood alleging that the group broke the law by secretly taping its employees discussing reimbursement for fetal tissue.
The Center for Medical Progress argued that the Planned Parenthood lawsuits interfered with the organization's right to free speech and that it violated a law in California meant to protect citizen journalists. Because the Supreme Court will not take up the case, the ruling from the 9th Circuit permitting the lawsuit to proceed remains in place.
UTAH’S PARTIAL MEDICAID EXPANSION GOES LIVE TODAY: Roughly 90,000 people in Utah are eligible starting Monday to enroll in Medicaid under a plan approved Friday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The approval is a scaled-back version of what voters supported in November, which would have allowed an additional 60,000 people to enroll in Medicaid.
Under the change, people in Utah who earn at or under the federal poverty will become eligible for Medicaid, while anyone earning over that amount will use the exchange.
The Utah program, enacted by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, supplants a version of expansion of Medicaid approved by voters via a ballot measure. Massachusetts and Arkansas have applied for similar plans.
The approved plan in Utah also includes a work requirement despite a recent federal judge striking down similar programs in Arkansas and Kentucky.
CHRISTIAN ANTI-ABORTION CHAIN GETS FAMILY PLANNING FUNDS UNDER NEW TRUMP ADMINISTRATION RULES: Obria Medical Clinics in California has received $1.7 million in federal family planning grants, the first time such an anti-abortion pregnancy center billed as an alternative to Planned Parenthood has gotten the funding.
Obria, which also does not prescribe birth control, had applied for the grants, known as Title X, after it partnered with a health center that provides birth control.
The approval comes after the Trump administration announced new rules for organizations that receive the grants, which specify doctors cannot directly refer their patients for abortions and that say family planning has to be housed separately from abortion services.
Planned Parenthood loses Title X funding: Ten affiliates in 12 states had the grants before, and under the new rules six affiliates in seven states are getting them. As many as 40,000 patients could be affected, Planned Parenthood said.
COLLINS ASKS DOJ TO RECONSIDER OBAMACARE LAWSUIT: Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has asked Attorney General William Barr in a letter to reconsider its position that the courts should throw out all of the Affordable Care Act. “Rather than seeking to have the courts invalidate the ACA, the proper route for the Administration to pursue would be to propose changes to the ACA or to once again seek its repeal,” she wrote. “The Administration should not attempt to use the courts to bypass Congress.” Collins was one of three Republicans to vote against Obamacare repeal alongside Democrats in 2017, but she also voted to zero out the mandate in the GOP tax law.
PALLONE CALLS FOR PROBE INTO CMS FUNDING FOR CONTRACTORS: Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, D-N.J., is calling for an investigation by HHS’s Inspector General into the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma’s use of taxpayer money to hire Republican communications consultants during her two-year tenure within the Trump administration. The practice was brought to light in an investigation by Politico.
CDC REPORTS 387 CASES OF MEASLES, SECOND-MOST OF MILLENNIUM: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 387 cases of measles have been reported in 15 states. This is the second-largest number of cases since 2000 when measles was eliminated.
JUUL-FUNDED STUDY FINDS THAT NEARLY HALF OF SMOKERS QUIT AFTER THREE MONTHS OF VAPING: Juul, the e-cigarette company that has dominated the vaping market for years, published a study in Harm Reduction Journal showing nearly half of adults stopped smoking after using a Juul device for three months.
GEORGIA PASSES SIX-WEEK ABORTION BAN: The Georgia legislature on Friday passed a ban on abortion when a heartbeat can be detected, which is roughly after six weeks into a pregnancy and before before most women know they’re pregnant. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to sign it into law. Georgia is the third state this year to pass a six-week ban, as well as Kentucky and Mississippi.
Celebrities call for a Georgia boycott over the abortion bill: 50 celebrities signed a letter sent to Georgia Governer Brian Kemp and Georgia House Speaker David Ralston Thursday in protest of the proposed abortion ban. The letter threatened to remove TV and film production companies from Georgia, which has become a popular and lucrative filming location. Some who signed include Alec Baldwin, Amy Schumer, Uzo Aduba, Don Cheadle and Sean Penn.
CSRxP LAUNCHES SIX FIGURE AD BUY AGAINST TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S REBATE PLAN: The Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing launched a campaign Thursday to criticize President Trump’s proposed Rebate Rule ahead of the Senate Finance Committee hearing on April 9. The Trump Administration would force pharmacy benefit managers to pass on drug savings to patients. The CSRxP said this rule would increase premiums and taxpayer spending.
ATTORNEY GENERAL BLASTS OXYCONTIN MANUFACTURER OVER ‘CRIMINAL ADDICTS’ EMAIL: New York Attorney General Letitia James claims in a lawsuit that Richard Sackler, the owner of OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma LP, described people who were addicted to opioids as "criminal addicts" in a company email while the company internally discussed ways to handle the growing opioid epidemic and said that the company should not be held responsible for them "being glorified as some sort of populist victim."
TV CHANNELS REJECT ADS FOR R-RATED ANTI-ABORTION MOVIE: The Hallmark Channel, Lifetime, and media properties owned by the Discovery conglomerate refused to air advertisements for an anti-abortion movie that criticizes the practices of Planned Parenthood. The movie, "Unplanned," premiered in 1,000 movie theaters across the nation. Pure Flix, the production company behind the film, primarily targets Christian and social conservative audiences.
PEOPLE ARE GETTING SALMONELLA FROM PETTING HEDGEHOGS: A CDC investigation has found that some recent salmonella cases have been linked to pet hedgehogs. Since January there have been 17 confirmed cases. “Don’t kiss or snuggle hedgehogs,” the CDC recommends.
OPINION: LEADING OBAMACARE OPPONENT TRASHES SUIT TRYING TO KILL IT
Politico Bennet, Kaine set to introduce ‘Medicare X’ plan to expand health care
Modern Healthcare Fresenius pays $231 million to resolve federal bribery charges
The Hill GOP lawmakers root against Trump in court on Obamacare
The Washington Post Fractious Democrats band together to defend healthcare law from Trump’s attack
Orlando Sentinel Sen. Rick Scott becomes Trump point man on GOP healthcare policy
MONDAY | April 1
April 1-2. Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel. AIDSWatch meeting. Details.
House and Senate in session.
Noon. 2075 Rayburn. Cato Institute event on “How Much Should Medicare Pay for Drugs?” Details.
5 p.m. Rules Committee meeting on “Condemning the Trump Administration’s Legal Campaign to Take Away Americans’ Healthcare.” Details.
TUESDAY | April 2
9:30 a.m. Dirksen 106. Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing on “Alzheimer’s: New Directions in Biomedical Research and Caregiving.” Details.
10:15 a.m. 2175 Rayburn. House Education and Labor Committee Health Subcommittee to hold hearing on surprise medical bills. Details.
10: 30 a.m. 2358-C Rayburn. House Appropriations Committee’s Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on the president’s budget request for the National Institutes of Health. Details.
10:30 a.m. 2322 Rayburn. House Energy and Commerce Committee to hold hearing on the rising cost of insulin. Details.
WEDNESDAY | April 3
9 a.m. 1789 Massachusetts Ave NW. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., discusses paid family leave with the American Enterprise Institute. Details.
9 a.m. House Appriation’s Committee’s Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee on the president’s budget request for the Food and Drug Administration. Details.
3 p.m. 2359 Rayburn. House Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee hearing on defense health programs. Details.
FRIDAY | APRIL 5
Scott Gottlieb’s final day as Food and Drug Administration commissioner.