Good morning ... Situational awareness: President Trump's big speech on drug pricing has been rescheduled for Friday, May 11. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar will join him.
Photo: Sebastián Vivallo Oñate/Agencia Makro/Getty Images
(Spoiler alert: Favorably.)
Azar has only been on the job a little over three months, but people who work with HHS already see a big change from the days of former Secretary Tom Price.
And for the most part, as they recount those differences to my colleague Caitlin Owens, they seem to prefer Azar.
The big picture: To be sure, one giant commonality between Azar and Price is the effort to chip away at the Affordable Care Act, while also presiding over similar rollbacks to Medicaid. After that, though, the two men are very different.
"Price was the guy refilling the punch bowl — the guardian of a fee-for-service system exposed as an unsuccessful and unscrupulous Secretary. Azar is the reformer who knows the role government must play in helping transition to a better-value health care system," one well-connected industry lobbyist told Caitlin.
This newsletter remained a Stormy Daniels-free zone for as long as possible, but I guess we all get sucked into the vortex sooner or later...
Driving the news: A subsidiary of drug manufacturer Novartis paid nearly $400,000 to a company controlled by Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, according to the New York Times.
Why it matters: Novartis is not the only large company that reportedly made substantial payments to Cohen's firm, which aren't disclosed like traditional lobbying activity and will undoubtedly raise questions about whether those corporations were paying for access to the president.
Honestly, not a lot.
Hospitals make a lot of money off patients who get health coverage through their jobs, and hospitals with little or no competition have the power to set their rates at will, according to a newly revised research paper.
The context: This paper builds on previous work that shows Medicare spending is almost entirely driven by the quantity of services, while private insurance spending is driven heavily by the prices and market power of hospitals.
Key quotes, from the paper:
Sen. Lamar Alexander has officially thrown in the towel on a bipartisan bill to stabilize the ACA.
Between the lines: Alexander praised the administration's proposal to expand access to association health plans — policies that allow similarly situated people to band together basically as if they were under the umbrella of one large employer.
But he was less gung-ho about the other half of the administration's current efforts, which would expand access to short-term insurance plans that often provide a relatively skimpy set of benefits.
Congo confirmed two cases of Ebola and has declared an outbreak. Roughly 21 people have shown symptoms consistent with the virus, of whom 17 died, the Associated Press reports.
Congo has had other Ebola outbreaks in the past, but was not tied to the massive outbreak in 2014 that caused so much controversy here in the U.S.
What we're watching today: Azar speaks to the American Hospital Association at 8am.
What else is going on? Let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.