Good morning ... The anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration is this weekend. Will Washington mark the occasion with a government shutdown?
If the Senate doesn’t pass a short-term spending bill today, we’re headed for a government shutdown. Even if it does pass the bill, it would expire in a month, so we could be headed for a shutdown then.
What a shutdown would mean for health care, per Axios’ Caitlin Owens:
Another important consideration: What happens to the federal agencies in charge of public health? STAT answered this question in a very smart piece earlier this week.
The bottom line: Washington is caught up trying to decide which party would take the political blame for a shutdown. In the meantime, though, it would have very real consequences for important programs that hardly anyone actually wants to see frozen.
HHS has rolled out a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, designed to help doctors and other providers avoid performing services that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs — such as performing abortions or treating transgender people.
What they’re saying: Social conservatives praised the new division, while abortion-rights supporters and LGBT advocates slammed it as a pretext for discrimination.
Patients are paying more out of pocket for drugs. Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg / UIG via Getty Images
Health insurers and pharmacy benefit managers are blasting a proposed federal policy that would lower what patients pay out of pocket when they pick up their prescriptions, saying it coddles the pharmaceutical industry.
But, as my colleague Bob Herman reports, drug companies are firing back, accusing insurers and PBMs of pocketing the savings from drug discounts and screwing over consumers in the process.
What they’re saying:
Go deeper: Bob has the full lowdown on this battle in the Axios stream.
The National Governors Association put out a bunch of recommendations yesterday on what to do next on the opioid crisis, now that the Trump administration has declared it a public health emergency.
Yes, but: Then they made sure that no one will ever read them, by writing sentences like: “Align 42 CFR Part 2 with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).”
The details, in English: Come on, governors — this is how you do it. Here are the main recommendations:
What we're watching today: The shutdown countdown.
Correction: In yesterday's Vitals, we meant to say that AdvaMed CEO Scott Whitaker told Bob that "if the device tax does go on the books, it will in many ways negate the value of tax reform to our companies" — not if the tax does not go on the books. We apologize for the error.