Good morning ... There’s a newly discovered sinkhole in New Zealand that’s six stories deep.
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I don't need to add much analysis to this infuriating, heartbreaking piece from the New England Journal of Medicine, about a patient named Kenneth. I'll let it speak for itself:
There is only one area of bipartisan consensus in Washington: permanent full employment for health care journalists.
To wit: Conservative activists and advocates have been meeting to map out a new push to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Why it doesn't matter: GOP leaders don't want to do this, largely because there is ample evidence to suggest it would fail. So, count on repeal still not happening.
Why it does matter: Some of the groups involved in this effort are entirely comfortable as thorns in GOP leaders' sides — and this could add one more headache to a midterm season that's already not looking great for Republican incumbents.
The details: They're still being worked out, but broadly, Holler said the emerging plan would convert ACA funding into block grants and repeal its Medicaid expansion. They haven't yet decided what to do about the law's insurance rules, which were a big sticking point last time.
The stock price of Cardinal Health cratered more than 18% yesterday after the company, which distributes prescription drugs and medical supplies, lowered its profit expectations for the rest of the year, Axios' Bob Herman reports.
Why now: Generic drug prices have been coming down, which is good for consumers, but not for drug wholesalers, which get paid partially based on the cost of the products they distribute.
Why it could get worse: Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen also face hundreds of lawsuits that allege they did nothing to monitor the flood of painkillers, which has driven the country’s opioid crisis. A potentially very costly settlement is possible.
Axios’ Stef Kight has a startling look this morning at the sudden rise of synthetic opioids like fentanyl. They are now the leading contributor to overdose deaths, after surpassing both heroin and prescription painkillers.
Synthetic opioids are harder to stop. Prescription drugs are highly regulated, and the government can combat abuse by requiring new formulations, new packaging and new limits on prescriptions. Products like fentanyl are more difficult to find and seize — and they're deadlier.
What to watch: The opioid crisis has had three distinct phases — prescription opioids, heroin and now fentanyl — but note that overdose deaths from cocaine and even psychostimulants are also rising.
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