Good morning ... And happy Veterans Day.
Lawmakers are approaching a bipartisan deal to resolve the ongoing dispute over whether to let the Defense Department approve medical products in an emergency, Sen. Patty Murray told me yesterday.
The issue: A provision in this year's defense authorization bill would permit the Defense Department to allow the use of certain medical products — such as freeze-dried plasma — on the battlefield, even if they haven't been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The deal: Product reviews remain solely within the FDA's jurisdiction, but would give the Pentagon new powers to get the FDA to expedite those reviews, according to the agreement reached between Murray and Sen. Lamar Alexander.
What's next? A Senate committee aide told me this is the deal that's likely to become final. While it's not clear how this would get passed — on its own or as an attachment to something else— Congress does not seem interested in slowing down the defense bill to address this.
Who saw this coming? ACA enrollment is off to a stronger start this year than last year. Roughly 600,000 people selected plans through HealthCare.gov in the first four days of open enrollment, which breaks down to about 150,000 per day — compared with 84,000 per day in the first two weeks of the last sign-up period.
Key stat: The share of new and returning customers is about the same this year as it was at the beginning of last year's enrollment period.
Yes, but: This is a surprisingly strong start, but we'll have to see how the rest of the sign-up period plays out.
Pharmaceutical companies could see their tax bills rise sharply under the Senate's proposed tax overhaul. The bill would impose a 12.5% tax on the income U.S. companies earn from intellectual property, irrespective of whether that intellectual property is housed here or abroad.
As the Wall Street Journal explains, that provision appears to be aimed at least partially at drug makers, who have taken to parking their patents overseas in an effort to avoid paying U.S. taxes.
Here's what else you need to know about the health care components of the new tax plans Republicans released yesterday.
When voters rank health care as a top issue in an election — as they did in Virginia's gubernatorial election, according to exit polls — it does not necessarily mean health care drove their vote, Kaiser Family Foundation president Drew Altman writes in his latest Axios column.
But between voters' avowed health care focus in Virginia, and their vote to expand Medicaid in Maine, Tuesday's races still tell us a lot about where the politics of health care are headed.
The impact: Expanding Medicaid could be a winner in other states, especially with the federal government picking up 90% of the costs and the Trump administration ready to let red states put a conservative stamp on their programs. Medicaid is not Social Security or Medicare yet, but politically it is a lot closer than Republicans may realize, Altman writes.
And the prominence of health care in the Virginia election could throw a scare into moderate Republicans about continuing to pursue ACA repeal.
If you've been seeing a lot of red ink lately, it's likely coming from NantHealth, the cancer testing company founded by the politically connected billionaire and doctor Patrick Soon-Shiong.
What's happening: My Axios colleague Bob Herman reports that NantHealth, which already laid off 300 employees over the summer, lost more than $42 million in the third quarter and has burned through more than half of its cash since the start of the year.
Why it matters: Soon-Shiong has the deep pockets to keep this ship afloat (NantHealth has lost $338 million since the start of 2016). But there's no evidence the company's personalized cancer tests are winning over employers, insurers or patients, and it's unclear how much patience investors have left.
My Axios colleague Eileen O'Reilly, who helps get this newsletter into your inbox every morning, takes a look this morning at one of the next big advances in cancer treatment: blood tests that can monitor the growth of tumors by analyzing DNA shed from tumors into the bloodstream.
Why this is important: Cancers respond differently in each person, and tumor DNA analysis may help to unravel what might work for a particular patient.
Go deeper: The National Cancer Institute has a thorough explainer of how blood biopsies are used to detect, track and treat cancer.
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