Good morning. I am now convinced that even the Bachelorette has become partisan, as the Democrats' debate last night forced America to choose between being responsible citizens or watching a season finale proposal described by the show's own host as "cringeworthy."
Today's word count, which is hopefully not cringeworthy: 926 words, or <4 minutes.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
As Democratic presidential candidates debate their ideal health care system, blue states are making incremental — yet significant — changes to the existing one.
Why it matters: In the states where they have power, Democrats are creating a blueprint for how the ACA could evolve under Democratic control in Washington.
Where it stands: California recently passed the most ambitious expansions of the ACA to date.
Other states have also made significant changes.
What's next: If a future Democratic president wanted something less ambitious than "Medicare for All," these reforms provide a starting point.
The other side: Republican-led states are surging ahead on their own reforms, like adding work requirements to Medicaid.
The bottom line: "Red states and blue states are moving in very different directions on health care, taking advantage of new flexibility on the one hand and combating efforts by the Trump administration on the other," said Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Last night's field of presidential candidates fought in 30-second soundbites over the merits of single payer Medicare for All versus a public option.
But none of the candidates moved beyond sparring over insurance reforms to address the underlying reason why people are having so much trouble affording their health care, which is that health care services keep getting more expensive.
Yes, but: You can't say that hospitals emerged unscathed from last night's debate. A key rationale for Medicare for All — or any public option — is that it lowers health care costs by paying lower rates for hospital and doctor services than private insurance does, which is why providers hate both plans.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Few things are more valuable in health care than data — specifically prescription data. Surescripts, a company that allows prescriptions to be filled electronically, controls a lot of that data and has every incentive to keep it gated, Axios’ Bob Herman reports.
Driving the news: Surescripts is asking the FBI to investigate allegations that one of its vendors illegally shared patients' medication histories with Amazon's online pharmacy, PillPack.
How we got here: Surescripts contracted with a reseller called ReMy Health, which gave doctors and hospitals access to data on the drugs patients take or used to take.
Yes, but: Surescripts does not allow pharmacies to access medication history data. That means pharmacists, like those at PillPack, who want to verify someone's prescriptions have to spend the time contacting doctors instead of going directly to Surescripts.
The other side: ReMy Health did not respond to requests for comment. A PillPack spokesperson said the company's patients gave explicit consent to obtain medication histories.
The bottom line: Something as simple as making sure someone is taking the right medications isn't that simple when there are billions of dollars up for grabs.
Bloomberg has an excellent deep dive into allegations of price fixing for generic drugs and how a federal investigation into those alleged practices seems to have fizzled. My colleague Sam Baker breaks it down:
The evidence of collusion among leading generics firms is pretty strong, at least according to lawsuits filed by state officials.
The intrigue: The FBI raided Mylan’s headquarters in September 2016 — while CEO Heather Bresch was in Washington, D.C., preparing for a hearing about EpiPen price increases. But almost 3 years later, no federal charges have been filed against anyone from Sandoz, Mylan or Teva.
The other side: There’s a good reason for the lack of charges, the companies argue: They’re innocent, and the FBI hasn’t found anything because there’s nothing to find.
As the new owner of an Apple Watch, this was a letdown: Wearable activity trackers have "little benefit" on chronic disease health outcomes, according to a new American Journal of Medicine analysis.
The bottom line: The devices may motivate people to move more, but this increased movement didn't lead to major health outcome changes when they're used without input from a doctor or trainer, TODAY! writes.