Good morning ... I'm getting out of Dodge for a while, so my colleagues Bob Herman and Caitlin Owens will be your hosts next week. Be nice to them and send them good tips: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. You're in good hands, and I'll see you again after Labor Day.
The Trump administration has teed up another significant step to implement its policy blueprint on prescription drug prices.
Between the lines: This idea has always been kind of a head-scratcher within Trump’s drug pricing framework.
The intrigue: PhRMA, the drug industry’s leading trade group, didn’t have much to say yesterday about the pending proposal, but did say that “any such requirement would raise significant legal issues, including First Amendment concerns.”
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, the agency created by the Affordable Care Act that tests new payment and care models, is on the hunt for a technology company that can “support health care pricing and bidding activities,” according to a new document obtained by Bob.
The big question: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (its parent organization) would not comment beyond the notice, so it’s unclear what this project would entail or how much a contract would cost. But it appears that the federal government wants to explore more ways for consumers to compare health care prices and shop among providers and suppliers.
Yes, but: People don’t really use health care price transparency tools, as a study last year showed.
The Senate yesterday passed its bill to fund the Department of Health and Human Services — the first time since 2007 that this bill has passed on its own in the Senate, rather than as part of a larger spending package, Caitlin reports. The vote was 85-7.
The big picture: The bill includes important funding measures like a $2 billion (corrected) increase for the National Institutes of Health and a $3.51 billion increase in opioid spending.
The last-minute drama: Sen. Rand Paul's amendment to defund Planned Parenthood got a vote and failed, 45–48. Every Democrat voted against it.
The details: A few notable amendments made it into the final bill.
What we're watching: How this gets reconciled with the much more partisan House bill.
A new Reuters poll, tucked into a very long exploration of Democrats' shift to the left, has some surprising findings: 85% of Democrats and 51% of Republicans said they support "Medicare for All."
That feels high. Other polling has also shown a solid base of support for some version of "Medicare for All" or single-payer, but it's hard to imagine a majority of Republicans supporting such an effort if and when a Democratic president attempts it.
"Medicare for All" doesn't have a single definition at this point, making it something of a blank slate.
More supporting evidence: A Fox News poll finds that the ACA is more popular (with 51% approval) than the GOP tax law (40%).
The bottom line: Any actual legislative debate over an expanded government health care program would surely be 2010 all over again, but still, all these signs point in the same direction.
Two of the four insurance companies on Georgia’s ACA exchange have rolled back proposed rate increases, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.
The big picture: Each insurer’s actuarial math depends on its past experience and where it’s selling plans. But overall, a handful of states now have either seen average premiums go down, or rise only modestly.
What we're watching today: Shareholders vote on the proposed merger between Cigna and Express Scripts.
Editor's note: We corrected the Senate's budget increase for NIH to $2 billion (from $5.4 billion previously stated). We apologize for the mistake.
Have a great weekend, and I'll see you again in September.