Good morning ... If you haven't, take a minute to read the New York Times' obituary for Bill Jenkins, who helped uncover that government scientists were lying to black men about treating their syphilis, and then devoted the rest of his life to reducing racial disparities in health.
Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images
Even Sen. Bernie Sanders can get outflanked in the race to define "Medicare for All."
Driving the news: Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) is set to introduce a bill today that would go even further than Sanders' sweeping proposal.
Why it matters: Even as moderates and more conventional liberals are freaking out over the politics of such a dramatic upheaval, the left is still moving left, laying down ever-more-ambitious markers as they gain more and more influence over their party.
What we don’t know: The cost.
What we're watching: For my money, the most interesting policy component of this bill is the way it would control health care spending.
Go deeper: What "Medicare for All" could look like
Seven of the pharmaceutical industry's top CEOs came to Capitol Hill yesterday, spent a few hours pointing the finger at pharmacy benefit managers, and went home largely unscathed.
Between the lines: The pharma CEOs were able to stick to their plan. No one on the Finance Committee backed any of them into a corner, or knocked them very far off their talking points, or made them commit to anything they might regret. Their stocks were unaffected.
Yes, but: Pharma isn't out of the woods. The headwinds it faced before the hearing — the general political climate, the nascent bipartisan interest in patent reform, and an unpredictable administration — are all still there. And this isn't the end of congressional oversight on drug prices.
My thought bubble: The committee's hearing may not have been industry's dream. In pharma's ideal world, it wouldn't have happened at all. But it was awfully close to the next-best thing.
Axios' Bob Herman digs into some new research this morning about the costs of "evergreening" — extending a drug's patent protections by making relatively minor changes to it.
The bottom line: Building a moat around those products is how drug companies squeeze extra dollars out of the system, even after taking the big initial step of setting their list prices.
If you knew you surgeon was doing 2 operations at once, would you be worried? Well, relax. "Overlapping surgeries" are safe, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
How it works: Surgeons will sometimes begin one operation while another one is still underway.
It's safe, the study found.
Go deeper: The Boston Globe's Spotlight team exposed concerns about the safety of concurrent surgeries — and a fierce internal clash over the practice within Massachusetts General Hospital — in a 2015 investigation.
Another one from JAMA: Sicker and lower-income seniors are the most likely to transfer out of Medicare Advantage and into traditional Medicare — which may be inflating MA plans' quality rankings somewhat.
Details: Researchers found that enrollees with complex medical needs, and those who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, are significantly more likely than healthier or wealthier patients to leave MA for traditional Medicare.
The study offers several possible explanations:
The intrigue: Disenrollment is just 1 of the dozens of factors that go into MA plans' quality ratings. So some plans may be achieving a higher rating despite low satisfaction from "high-need" enrollees.
Correction: Yesterday's Vitals misstated how much money is at stake in the legal wrangling between Cigna and Anthem. Cigna says Anthem owes it $16 billion; Anthem says Cigna owes it $20 billion. Both sums are in billions — not millions. I apologize for the error.