Good morning ... The hot Lunar New Year gift in North Korea is ... crystal meth, apparently.
Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Prescription drugs may be the latest snag for President Trump’s proposed NAFTA replacement.
The big picture: Trump's deal, known as USMCA, already faces an uncertain fate in the Democratic-controlled House, as my colleague Jonathan Swan reported earlier this week. And now Democrats are homing in on the deal's protections for biologic drugs, according to the Associated Press.
What they're saying: "This is an outrageous giveaway to Big Pharma," Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) told AP.
Details: The U.S. guarantees 12 years of market exclusivity to new biologic drugs, before cheaper quasi-generic competitors known as biosimilars can come to market.
The other side: Generous exclusivity periods are designed to help drugmakers recoup the cost of developing a new drug, including the cost of failed products, and biologics are particularly complex (which is why they are particularly expensive).
The bottom line: The negotiations over USMCA are dynamic and cover a lot of ground. Biologics may not sink the agreement. And the White House is hoping to peel off moderate Democrats, not necessarily the Rosa DeLauros of the world.
Young people are a lot less satisfied than older generations with the experience of going to the doctor, according to a new Accenture report.
Young people were also more likely to choose a provider based on their technological offerings — for example, whether appointments can be made online, or online access to health records.
My thought bubble: There's way too much hype around the idea that some app or whatever is going to turn the health care system upside down.
Almost 70% of Congress signed onto new letters singing the praises of Medicare Advantage, Axios' Bob Herman notes.
Yes, but: That group only includes 2 of the congressional Democrats running for president: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).
Between the lines: This is an annual ritual.
But MA is still facing questions.
Texas has a way to help patients appeal their surprise medical bills. It's not open to everyone. But it's still overwhelmed and unable to keep up with demand.
How it works: Texas operates a mediation program for patients hit with a surprise out-of-network bill, and it has expanded access to the program twice over the past 4 years.
By the numbers: Demand for the program skyrocketed last year, per the Tribune.
That's more than the commission can keep up with, and it's been trying to grow while still managing a workload that's very time-sensitive for patients.
Sen. Cory Booker. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Some of the left's skepticism of Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) stems from his reputation as a friend of pharma, and he's trying to change that reputation as he runs for president.
Why it matters: As Democrats figure out what and who they want in 2020, a whole lot of the process revolves around health care — not just in the potential litmus test of "Medicare for All," but also drug pricing, the Affordable Care Act and how to balance all 3 of those issues.
Booker's pro-pharma reputation has 3 big components: the industry's presence in New Jersey; its contributions to his past campaigns; and his 2017 vote against a non-binding measure to approve of importing drugs from Canada.
Yes, but: He's changed his tune ahead of 2020, STAT notes. Booker has taken a harsher tone toward pharma, even threatening to roll back their patent protections, and said he would stop taking the industry's campaign contributions.
What he's saying: "I live in Newark, a low-income community where people work for pharmaceutical companies," Booker told STAT. "They might be the lab assistant, they might be the secretary, and they value those jobs. And even they know that we can have fair pricing and still have thriving companies. This is not an either-or. And right now we have practices going on that are abusing this nation and constituents of mine."