Jun 13, 2019

Axios Vitals

By Caitlin Owens
Caitlin Owens

Good morning. I am requesting round 2 of feedback on the word count, except this time it's more formal.

  • All we want to know is whether you love it or hate it. Click here for love and here for hate.
  • We'll share the results on Monday. And we'll be able to see which newsletter generated the most responses. In other words, the competition is on.

Today's word count is a beautiful and efficient 529 words, ~3 minutes.

1 big thing: Health care stocks have recovered
Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

The collective stock prices of the largest health care companies have recovered pretty much all of their losses from April, when analysts and algorithms soured on the industry over fears of "Medicare for All" and other looming changes.

The bottom line: The health care industry is still extremely profitable, and Wall Street has the attention span of a gnat, Axios' Bob Herman writes.

Flashback: Wall Street has kind of soured on health care

2. An interesting birth control alliance

Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appear to agree that birth control should be available over the counter.

  • Responding to an AOC tweet advocating for the policy, Cruz tweeted, "I agree. Perhaps...we can team up here as well. A simple, clean bill making birth control available over the counter. Interested?"

Reality check: Experts say this would be the FDA's call. And the thornier issue is whether insurance would cover it if such a change is made.

  • That's something that Congress can decide.
  • The Affordable Care Act requires prescribed birth control to be provided without cost-sharing. So while removing the need for a prescription could make contraception more accessible, it could also end up making it more expensive.

What we're watching: Other Democrats also jumped into the Twitter conversation to tell Cruz that they're introducing over-the-counter birth control legislation. "We'd all love to have your support," Sen. Patty Murray tweeted.

3. Company selling short-term plans sued

A Florida-based company that sells short-term insurance plans has been sued by 2 patients who claim they were misled about what kind of coverage they were getting, NYT reports.

  • The policyholders say they thought they were buying Affordable Care Act plans with coverage guarantees from the company, Health Insurance Innovations.
  • But they weren't. Instead, they ended up with tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills.

The plaintiffs are seeking class-action status and estimate that up to 500,000 people may have bought the plans.

  • Health Insurance Innovations told NYT the lawsuit is meritless.

This is what critics feared when the administration expanded short-term plans, which aren't required to cover a comprehensive set of benefits and can leave patients vulnerable if they get sick.

  • But supporters say the move expanded access to cheaper options.
4. House Democrats investigating Juul

Photo: Eva Hambach/AFP/Getty Images

A top member of the House Oversight Committee sent a letter to Juul last week asking for a vast amount of internal records, the Daily Beast reports.

  • Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi asked for details about the company's advertising strategies, its knowledge of its products' health impacts and its business arrangements with Altria.
  • Krishnamoorthi said he's particularly concerned about the rise of youth vaping.

Why it matters: The letter contains "political heft as he can put the weight and resources of the subcommittee he heads behind getting answers from the vaping giant," the Daily Beast writes.

5. Another big health care deal

Dassault Systemes, a French maker of industrial software and technology, is buying New York-based health data provider Medidata in a deal worth $5.8 billion, Bob writes.

The bottom line: Medidata registered a $52 million profit last year on $636 million of revenue, but Dassault is betting that more pharmaceutical and medical device companies will use Medidata's software to help their products clear clinical trials.

  • More than 1,000 health care companies already use Medidata for clinical trial work.
Caitlin Owens