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Today's Vitals is 984 words, or a 4-minute read.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The pharmaceutical industry's lobbyists will really have to work for those millions once Congress comes back from its August recess.
Driving the news: Drug pricing will likely dominate the fall agenda in Congress.
On the substance, the bipartisan Senate bill is pretty far-reaching, in the sense that it reaches into many parts of the system. The House bill may end up being more aggressive on its big-ticket items, though.
What they're saying: PhRMA, the industry's leading trade organization, said yesterday that the bill "fails to meet the fundamental test of providing meaningful relief at the pharmacy counter for the vast majority of seniors," while the White House signaled its support.
My thought bubble: Everyone's written a million stories about congressional Republicans being pulled between President Trump and some traditionally conservative idea or interest group.
Pharma isn't the only one breaking the bank on lobbying, Axios' Bob Herman reports.
By the numbers: Most of the industry's big players swelled their lobbying budgets by at least 10% in the second quarter of this year, compared with the same period in 2018.
That’s not all: Those are just the major trade groups.
What's next: These numbers will probably keep going up.
Medicaid work requirements were back in federal court yesterday, and once again they seemed to be on thin ice, Roll Call reports.
This time it was New Hampshire's turn to defend its work requirements — in front of the same federal judge, James Boasberg, who previously ruled against similar requirements in Kentucky and Arkansas.
Boasberg's questioning yesterday stuck to some of the same themes that led him to freeze other states' work requirements. He asked several questions about people losing coverage under the new rules and how that squares with Medicaid's goals as a source of health coverage, per Roll Call.
Democrats who want to expand government-provided health insurance while stopping short of “Medicare for All” got 2 pieces of good news yesterday:
1) An optional public program is more popular than a pure single-payer one, according to a new Marist poll.
2) An analysis by the Avalere consulting firm says the liberal Center for American Progress’ health care plan would achieve universal coverage at a much lower cost than Medicare for All.
Between the lines: Both plans would be at least slightly less expensive for the country as a whole than the status quo, according to economists’ estimates.
Remember the news about a potential “health attack” against American diplomats stationed in Cuba in 2016? Well, something seems to have happened to those diplomats’ brains — it’s just not clear what, exactly.
Flashback: In 2017, dozens of American diplomats who had been working in Havana began reporting unusual symptoms such as persistent headaches, hearing loss and blurred vision.
Whatever happened, it probably isn’t simply psychosomatic, according to a new clinical evaluation of 40 of the affected diplomats. The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"All you can say is something happened, which caused their brain to change," Ragini Verma, a professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the study’s authors, told NPR.