Good morning ... Did you leave your McDonnell Douglas MD-78 unattended at the Madrid airport? Nine years ago? If it's yours, they'd like you to please come claim it.
Reps. Jim Jordan and Elijah Cummings. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images
The Senate Finance Committee sought some common ground around the edges of the drug-pricing debate yesterday, while bipartisanship proved more elusive in the House.
Here's what we learned as the new Congress kicked off its first hearings on drug prices:
Wild card: "Whether I buy a drug or you buy a drug, there ought to be one price for a drug and everybody ought to pay the same thing,” Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told Caitlin.
In the House Oversight Committee, meanwhile, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) attacked Democrats’ motives for investigating drug prices, according to STAT, but also proposed cutting the market protection afforded to new biological drugs.
The bottom line: Republicans and Democrats are still pretty far apart on the big questions about drug pricing, but may be able to find common ground on more modest ideas like restructuring Part D — at least as a starting place.
Apple’s steady march into consumer health care continues: It’s partnering with Aetna to fold Apple Watches and iPhones into the insurer’s wellness programs, CNBC’s Christina Farr reports.
Apple’s health care goals seem clear, and it has picked its spots at least as well as any other tech company looking for a slice of the health care system. It’s focused squarely on patient data, and on partnerships with big, established players.
None of this seems likely to revolutionize the health care system, but no company has much of a plan to revolutionize the health care system. Apple, unlike some of its competitors, at least has a clear path to profiting from that system.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved a record number of generic drugs, but at the same time it’s inspecting a lot fewer of the factories where those drugs are made.
Why it matters: Declining inspections are raising new concerns about their quality and safety, Bloomberg’s Anna Edney reports in the first part of a yearlong investigation.
By the numbers: Generics make up roughly 90% of all U.S. prescriptions.
Between the lines: The story also includes 2 anecdotes in which FDA inspectors uncovered violations and began work on enforcement letters, but "higher-ups at the FDA … overrode the concerns of those on the ground."
The other side: "It’s not the number of inspections we do, it's whether we're targeting effectively," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told Bloomberg.
The average payment to an HCA Healthcare hospital, after adjusting for inpatient and outpatient stays, increased 3.9% in 2018. That's the highest rate of increase for HCA since 2014, Axios' Bob Herman reports.
Why it matters: This metric, known as "same facility revenue per equivalent admission," is a popular industry shorthand for pricing growth. And it shows that hospitals can still command higher prices from health insurers if they have negotiating power in their market — which many HCA hospitals have.
Here's the latest in the debate that will be melting everyone's brains for 2 years.
1. CNN implied (or, at least, some of its readers inferred) that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) was walking back her call to end the private health insurance industry, based largely on an unnamed adviser pointing out that she had also cosponsored more incremental health care bills.
2. Democrats who are not running for president broke with Harris' initial statements Monday about the end of private health insurance.
3. Michael Bloomberg also jumped in. "I think you could never afford that ... to replace the entire private system where companies provide health care for their employees would bankrupt us for a very long time," he said.