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GOP leaders are trying their best to put a lid on President Trump's talk of a new and wonderful health care plan that would define the Republican Party for 2020.
"Not any longer," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday when asked whether he and Trump differ on health care.
Rhetorically, Trump has kicked the can past 2020, just after pushing his administration to dive back into — and escalate — the legal fight that hurt Republicans so badly in 2018.
Reality check: It's still the Justice Department's position that the courts should strike down the Affordable Care Act. As long as this lawsuit is still active — and that will be a while — it'll be accurate for Democrats to say on the campaign trail that Trump is trying to end protections for pre-existing conditions.
Trump's move to strike down the Affordable Care Act through the courts suggests he's still playing to the GOP base. But even the GOP base likes the individual benefits of the law and doesn't want to lose them, the Kaiser Family Foundation's Drew Altman and Mollyann Brodie write in today's column.
By the numbers:
The bottom line: Even as a base-pleasing strategy, the latest court strategy doesn’t really work — and it hands the Democrats a huge political opportunity.
My colleague Bob Herman reports this morning that AbbVie is facing a growing class-action lawsuit over accusations that its "anticompetitive conduct" has kept at bay cheaper alternatives to the blockbuster Humira.
The other side:
The big picture: "It's not an antitrust violation to obtain a patent, but what happens when you get 100 patents?" said Michael Carrier, an antitrust and intellectual property professor at Rutgers University. "At some point, does that cross a line?"
A new crop of tech startups is making prescription drugs available without ever needing to look a doctor in the eye.
These aren't the sketchy overseas sites that have been advertising Viagra for years. But they're still doing an end-run around doctors' traditional role in the system.
New York Times reporters obtained several prescriptions without speaking to a doctor. Here's what they found:
How it works: These sites, NYT explains, are not health care companies in the same way Uber argues it isn't a transportation operation — they're all just platforms. The doctors who sign these prescriptions work for third parties, and are paid an hourly rate for medical consultations.
Why it matters: These sites flout the idea that doctors use their clinical expertise to find the right treatment for the right patient, reducing them to more of a formality.
John Bardis, a former HHS assistant secretary under the Trump administration, said in a speech Tuesday that employers need to take a tougher stand on health care costs.
Why it matters: If employers take Bardis' advice, hospitals and drug companies are in big trouble.
Details, from Axios' Caitlin Owens: Speaking at the West Health Healthcare Costs Innovation Summit, Bardis said employers aren't maximizing their leverage over a health care industry that uses the fee-for-service system to make as much money as it can.
Flashback: Mounting frustration from employers and employees could put cost controls on the table faster than you might think.
Congratulations to Sidmouth, England, which has finally conquered its "fatberg." It took 36 truckloads, each carrying 3,000 gallons, to reclaim the town's sewers from "waterlogged heaps of gloopy, congealed wipes, oil, and grease." I'm not a fatberg expert, but that sounds like a big fatberg.
Are you a fatberg expert? Is this, in fact, a big one? Let me know: email@example.com. Health policy expertise also accepted.