RED HOT Contributors


Overnight Health Care: Judge won't force Trump to make ObamaCare payments | CBO says bipartisan health bill would reduce deficit by $4B | Trump won't set ObamaCare sign-up goal


A federal court in California has struck down an emergency motion that would have forced the Trump administration to continue making ObamaCare subsidy payments to insurers.

U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria, an Obama appointee, denied the motion for an injunction.

Eighteen states and Washington, D.C., signed onto the motion for a temporary restraining order that would have forced the administration to keep making the payments while a lawsuit works its way through the courts.

Earlier this month, President Trump said he would stop making the payments, which compensate insurers for lowering some out-of-pocket costs for ObamaCare enrollees.

Read more here.

CBO: Bipartisan health-care bill would reduce deficit by $4B over 10 years

A bipartisan deal to shore up ObamaCare’s insurance markets would reduce the deficit by nearly $4 billion by 2027, according to a score released Wednesday by Congress’s nonpartisan scorekeeper.

The bill, sponsored by Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderChildren’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Overnight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children’s health insurance | Puerto Rico’s water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents’ right to sue Schumer calls for attaching ObamaCare fix to children’s health insurance MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayChildren’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Overnight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children’s health insurance | Puerto Rico’s water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents’ right to sue Schumer calls for attaching ObamaCare fix to children’s health insurance MORE (D-Wash.), would fund key ObamaCare insurer subsidies and give states more flexibility to change their ObamaCare programs. 

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said in its report Wednesday that the bill would not substantially impact the number of people with health insurance.

On the flip side, a CBO report released in August concluded that not funding the insurer payments, called cost-sharing reductions, would increase the federal deficit by $194 billion through 2026.

Not funding the payments, which reimburse insurers for giving discounted co-pays and deductibles to low-income patients, could cause premiums for the most popular ObamaCare plans to increase by 25 percent by 2020.

The score could give Alexander and Murray more ammo as they try to convince Republicans and the White House to support the bill.

Read more here.

Undocumented teen gets abortion that Trump administration tried to block 

The undocumented teen in federal custody at the center of an abortion battle had the procedure Wednesday morning that the Trump administration had tried to block.

The American Civil Liberties Union tweeted that the 17-year-old, known only in court documents as Jane Doe, had the abortion early this morning.

“Make no mistake, the Trump administration’s efforts to interfere in women’s decisions won’t stop with Jane Doe. We will not stop fighting until every woman has access to abortion care. #JusticeforJane,” the organization said in a tweet.

Read more here.

Trump administration will not set ObamaCare sign-up goal 

The Trump administration does not plan to release projections for how many people will sign up for ObamaCare, breaking from past years. 

The Obama administration used to release a projection for enrollment, which then served as a target goal for the yearly push. But the Trump administration will not be following suit, a Department of Health and Human Services official told The Hill on Wednesday. 

Still, the official said the administration does want the coming enrollment period, which runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, to run well. Asked if the administration wants the sign-up period to go smoothly, the official said “absolutely.”

Democrats have accused the Trump administration of “sabotaging” ObamaCare, noting moves like cutting the budget for outreach and advertising by 90 percent.

Read more here.

Groups in scramble to delay ObamaCare taxes 

The medical device and insurance industries are fighting to stop ObamaCare taxes from taking effect now that it’s clear the law will remain on the books next year.

Industry sources say they’re optimistic and that momentum is growing. They point to new legislation released last week to delay the health insurance tax and a letter — with a lengthy list of signees — sent to Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanThe Hill Interview: Budget Chair Black sticks around for now Gun proposal picks up GOP support GOP lawmaker Tim Murphy to retire at end of term MORE (R-Wis.) in favor of repealing the medical device tax. 

But there isn’t much time.

Congress previously delayed both the tax on health insurance and the tax on medical devices, but the pause is set to expire at the end of the year. The taxes, included in the Affordable Care Act, were meant to help pay for former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaGeorge W. Bush honors father at benefit for hurricane victims Dem senator: ‘I miss every one of’ our last 5 presidents All five living former presidents appear at hurricane relief benefit concert MORE‘s signature health-care law.

Read more here.

Analysis: Premiums for most popular ObamaCare plans to go up 34 percent

Premiums for the most popular ObamaCare plans are rising by an average of 34 percent in 2018 in states that use, according to a new independent analysis.

The study released Wednesday by consulting firm Avalere Health said the premium increases in “silver” plans are being driven primarily by marketplace instability amid uncertainty over the future of ObamaCare.

Specifically, the study said the Trump administration’s elimination of cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, lower than anticipated enrollment in the marketplace, limited insurer participation and insufficient action by the government to reimburse plans that cover higher-cost enrollees all helped contribute to the premium increases.

Read more here.

GOP chairman threatens to subpoena DEA over investigation into ‘pill dumping’ in W. Va. 

 Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) on Wednesday threatened to subpoena the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for data on “pill dumping” in West Virginia that could be contributing to the state’s opioid crisis. 

Walden said the agency is taking too long to comply with the Energy and Commerce Committee’s May 8th request for information regarding drug suppliers pumping millions of opioids into the state West Virginia. 

“Enough is enough. Will you, on behalf of the DEA, commit today to producing the documents and information we requested, and soon? Or do we simply need to issue a subpoena? Because we are done waiting,” Walden, the panel’s chairman, said to DEA Deputy Assistant Administrator Neil Doherty at a hearing. 

West Virginia has the highest drug overdose death rate in the nation. 

In six years, drug wholesalers sent 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills, according to an investigation by the Charleston Gazette-Mail. 

Read more here.

More on opioids:

Senate Democrats are calling on President Trump to allow the government to negotiate lower prices for a drug that reverses opioid overdoses.

The cost of Evzio, the Democrats say, has increased from $690 in 2015 to $4,500 for a two-pack today as the opioid crisis has grown.

Read more on that here.

Senate Democrats introduced a bill on Wednesday to invest $45 billion to fight the opioid epidemic, just a day before President Trump is slated to announce how his administration will combat the crisis.

Read more on that here.

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Wednesday the agency will promote the use of drugs to help people addicted to opioids.

The use of “medication-assisted treatment” (MAT), which uses drugs and counseling to combat addiction, has been somewhat controversial because some argue it simply replaces one drug with another.

Gottlieb said the FDA will combat that stigma. Many studies have shown that MAT is the most effective way to deal with opioid addiction.

Read more here.

Frustrated with Trump, Dems introduce drug pricing bill 

Several high-profile Democrats on Wednesday introduced a bill to let Medicare negotiate drug prices, saying they are frustrated the measure hasn’t received a full-throated endorsement from Trump.

“Well, the campaign is over,” Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Clip shows Larry David and Bernie Sanders reacting after discovering they’re related For now, Trump dossier creates more questions than answers MORE (I-Vt.) said at a press conference. “He’s president now. We need him to join us in taking on the pharmaceutical industry.”

The new legislation, introduced in both the House and the Senate, would allow the Department of Health and Human Services secretary to negotiate directly with drug companies in an effort to lower prices for those in Medicare’s prescription drug program — and release a public report after each negotiation period.

Read more here.

Dems offer public option bill

Congressional Democrats are introducing legislation to allow states to set up a public option for health-care insurance.

The legislation, spearheaded by Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Senators grill ex-Equifax CEO over stock sales Overnight Cybersecurity: Trump proclaims ‘Cybersecurity Awareness Month’ | Equifax missed chance to patch security flaw | Lawmakers await ex-CEO’s testimony | SEC hack exposed personal data MORE (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M), is the latest idea from Democrats as the party tries to plot its next steps after blocking the GOP effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

“Our objective should be to have a competition of ideas. … I think it’s a golden age in terms of policy ideas when it comes to Democrats and health care,” Schatz told reporters.

The legislation would let states create a public option by expanding Medicaid eligibility to any individual who wants to buy into the program.

The bill has 17 cosponsors in the Senate, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has offered his own single-payer government health-care plan.

Read more here.

Join The Hill on Tuesday, November 7, for America’s Opioid Epidemic: Strategies for Prevention featuring FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenHomeland Security searching some social media doesn’t violate privacy The feds shouldn’t blackball Kaspersky without public evidence Week ahead: Crunch time for defense bill’s cyber reforms | Equifax under scrutiny MORE (D-N.H.). Topics of conversation include the response to the opioid crisis, prevention initiatives, and the role education might play in lowering addiction rates. 

From The Hill’s opinion section: 

This administration has contempt for public health, by Dr. Peter Lurie, president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

On declaring emergency, Trump should chart a new course on drug policy, by Grant Smith from the Drug Policy Alliance.

What we’re reading

Polar bear attacks and darkness: Inside a hospital at the top of the world (Stat News)

Why it will be harder to enroll in ObamaCare (Bloomberg)

Judge: Trump’s health care cuts don’t pose immediate threat (ABC News)

State by state

Las Vegas shooting victims struggle to afford mounting medical costs (CNN)

Democrats running for governor face off over health care (Los Angeles Times)

Iowa withdraws request to leave ObamaCare market (The New York Times)

Send tips and comments to Jessie Hellmann,; Peter Sullivan,; Rachel Roubein,; and Nathaniel Weixel,

Follow us on Twitter: @thehill@jessiehellmann@PeterSullivan4@rachel_roubein, and @NateWeixel.


We Support OUR Contributors

Get Our Newsletter

 Receive podcast updates
Exclusive insights
Patient Engagement Tips from industry experts
We hate SPAM as much as you do and promise to keep your email address safe.
  • Subscribe to the Podcast