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The Trump administration — primarily the president himself — has talked a lot about cracking down on prescription drug prices. But the pharmaceutical industry hasn’t changed its ways since Trump took office: 20 drugs have seen price hikes of 200% or more since January 2017, my colleague Bob Herman reports this morning.
The impact: These increases, which can be found in an analysis by Pharmacy Benefits Consultants, are in the drugs' list prices, before rebates and discounts are applied. People with insurance don't pay these full amounts, but price hikes still affect everyone.
A former colleague is raising more questions about Robert Redfield, the likely choice to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the work he did earlier in his career on HIV and AIDS.
The latest: Craig Hendrix, a former Army researcher who’s now at Johns Hopkins University, told Kaiser Health News that some of Redfield’s research raised serious red flags, specifically a 1994 study that was part of the Army’s effort to find a treatment for HIV.
The context: Redfield is already facing ethics questions related to his early HIV/AIDS research, and concerns about how well he handled clinical data will only add to that controversy.
Why it matters: Most people probably did or said some things 20 years ago that would be politically inconvenient today. But these questions are materially relevant to the work Redfield would be doing if he leads the agency.
The temperature of the debate around stabilizing the Affordable Care Act got a lot more heated yesterday, Axios' Caitlin Owens notes — another sign that this effort is unlikely to cross the finish line.
Between the lines: Setting the abortion dispute aside for a moment (admittedly, that's difficult as it's a huge part of the debate), it's hard to back up the assertion that Republicans have been negotiating in bad faith on the more directly ACA-related provisions of this bill.
After all, Sen. Lamar Alexander did negotiate with Democrats for months in search of a bipartisan agreement — and ultimately found one, at least for a while.
Conor Lamb's victory wasn't about health care. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
It didn’t take long for the stories to appear about how health care was a decisive issue in the Pennsylvania special election last week. But that’s probably not true, the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Drew Altman writes in today’s column.
Keep in mind: The voters who say health care is the biggest issue to them tend to be liberal and vote for Democrats, and that’s who turned out in the election, Altman writes. Plus, this was a “robo-poll,” and it probably missed a lot of people.
The bottom line: It’s not that health care wasn’t important to the voters. It’s just that other issues probably were too, and they shouldn’t be overlooked when people try to figure out what might happen in the midterm elections.
The health care rumor mill has been humming recently with speculation that the Department of Health and Human Services would try to end a workaround that states and insurers have used to make up for one of Trump's big ACA cuts.
Yes, but: HHS secretary Alex Azar said the idea hasn't been discussed, according to Inside Health Policy's Ariel Cohen.
How it works: This all relates to a practice known as "silver-loading."
Buzz: All of this would be moot if Congress restored the cost-sharing payments. But it's probably not going to. And that has sparked a lot of speculation that HHS would try to prohibit silver-loading in the future.
Quick take: I wouldn't rule out the possibility that HHS could start having those conversations if and when Congress passes this spending bill and it's official that cost-sharing payments aren't coming back.