Good morning ... Maybe I'm just a Luddite, but when I think about the universe of "immersive experiences" I could potentially have in this world, the toilet is very literally at the bottom of the list. Actually I might be more likely to pay money not to have a fully immersive toilet experience.
With Washington focused on the U.S.' southern border in terms of immigration, my colleague Caitlin Owens has a reminder this morning that a different form of border security is a very real part of combating the opioid epidemic.
The big picture: Building a wall wouldn't do much to stop opioid smuggling through legal ports of entry, but there's a more bipartisan effort underway to improve interdiction capacity at the border.
Where it stands: The Senate's Homeland Security spending bill includs funding to enhance drug detection technologies, modernize Customs and Border Patrol infrastructure and expand the number of agents dedicated to opioid trafficking enforcement.
Bob Herman is back in San Francisco for the annual J.P. Morgan health care confab, which is in and around the crowded, sweaty Westin St. Francis Hotel. Here are some of the big takeaways from Day 1.
Drug deals are in demand.
But pharma can’t escape drug pricing.
Tax reform is an afterthought.
Bob ran into former Anthem CEO Joe Swedish.
The uproar over surprise hospital bills usually revolves around cases in which a patient goes to an in-network hospital but is seen by an out-of-network doctor.
Vox’s Sarah Kliff takes it to another level, though, with a story on Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, which does not accept any private insurance — leaving insured patients with staggering and unexpected bills.
Details: Zuckerberg — named for Mark Zuckerberg after he made a $75 million donation — is a public hospital, and San Francisco's premier trauma center.
What they're saying: The hospital told Vox that this is a common arrangement, necessary to subsidize care for the uninsured and Medicaid beneficiaries.
Why it matters: This is an extreme example of a well-established problem: It's impossible to look up your provider network when you're having a medical emergency.
Two factors contribute to rising drug costs — price increases for existing drugs, and new drugs coming to market with high price tags. Each of those factors affects different parts of the market, according to a study published in the latest issue of Health Affairs.
The big picture:
My thought bubble: A lot of the political debate over drug prices falls along these same lines.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Stephen Lam/Getty Images
Newly seated California Gov. Gavin Newsom came out of the gate yesterday with an ambitious health care plan that would, per the Los Angeles Times, impose an individual mandate and expand insurance subsidies to more middle-income people.
Why it matters: California is a traditional leader on health policy, and finding out what's politically possible there will be a good sign of where Democrats might want to turn in other states, or if they regain unified control of Washington at some point.