Good morning … The health care world suffered a big loss this weekend with the death of Politico’s Brett Norman. Brett was a smart reporter, full of depth and a strong command of the most complicated issues of health and medical science. And he was a warm, generous and decent person, always remarkably easy to get along with.
Our thoughts are with his Politico colleagues, his wife Kate and his whole family.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Some of the “plans” out there to lower prescription drug prices are too minor to matter. But some critics of those plans would have you believe that nothing short of government price-setting would make any difference — which is not the case.
With so many competing ideas floating around, I thought it might be helpful to break all this down, to make sense of the "buckets" of overall approaches that are on the table and how each one would work.
Bucket 1: Move the costs around
Bucket 2: Increase competition
Bucket 3: Reduce the prices
Go deeper: Read more on Axios.com.
Situational awareness: President Trump’s big speech on drug prices, initially slated for later this week, has been delayed as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar recovers from his recent hospitalization.
Photo: John Moore/Getty Images
So far, Congress’ response to the opioid epidemic has been focused largely on ways to get the addiction epidemic under control and get treatment for its victims. But some Democrats also want start punishing the companies that profit from opioid prescriptions, my colleague Caitlin Owens reports this morning.
Why you’ll hear about this again: Sen. Bernie Sanders has proposed fines on drug companies that falsely market opioids as nonaddictive; criminal liability for top executives; and a $7.8 billion fine for any company that is found liable for contributing to the opioid epidemic.
Two big regulatory moves from the Trump administration, both reported out over the weekend:
Why it matters: Axios' Erica Pandey summed it up well: These health moves would target two of the nation's most underrepresented and vulnerable communities.
Wall Street will be closely watching Florida tomorrow, when the state is expected to award new Medicaid contracts to health insurers, Axios' Bob Herman reports.
Why it matters: Florida’s Medicaid program is gigantic, covering 4.3 million low-income people. Florida’s Medicaid population is bigger than the entire populations of 24 states. And that translates into big money — more than $15 billion from federal and state taxpayers — for private insurers.
Companies to watch: Almost every for-profit insurer has a current contract and is looking to stick around: Aetna, Anthem, Centene, Humana, Magellan Health, Molina Healthcare, UnitedHealth Group and WellCare Health Plans, along with a few local insurers.
The health insurance industry's leading trade group, America's Health Insurance Plans, wants HHS to scale back its proposed expansion of short-term insurance plans that don't have to comply with many of the Affordable Care Act's benefit mandates.
The details: Comments on the administration's proposed changes to short-term plans are due today. Among AHIP's concerns are:
The bottom line: "We recommend that short-term plans should not be offered as a full replacement for comprehensive coverage," AHIP says — because that could pull healthy customers out of the market for ACA coverage.
Even some Republicans — in the White House and on Capitol Hill — are starting to worry that Ronny Jackson won't be confirmed as the next Veterans Affairs secretary, sources with direct knowledge of the situation told Axios' Jonathan Swan.
What they're saying:
The other side: White House legislative affairs director Marc Short pushed back against "members of Congress who have never managed a thing outside of their own congressional office (who) have the audacity to say he's not qualified before he even has a hearing."
Behind the scenes: While these concerns about Jackson grow on the Hill, administration officials are trying to intensely prepare Jackson for his hearing.
Get with the program: Subscribe to Sneak Peek, Swan's weekly lookahead for the White House and Congress.
What we're watching this week: The Senate health committee marks up its opioids bill on Tuesday, and the Veterans Affairs Committee hears from Jackson on Wednesday.
Senate appropriations hearing Tuesday on the FDA's budget; Senate homeland security panel hearing Thursday on HHS' efforts to combat human trafficking; House Ways and Means Committee hearing Thursday on innovation in health care.
What are you watching? Let me know: email@example.com.