Good morning ... Who authorized this "bomb cyclone," and can they be fired?
It's been 100 days since Congress let federal CHIP funding expire. Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Some states could run out of money for the Children’s Health Insurance Program as early as Jan. 19, despite short-term funding that Congress had hoped would last through March.
Notable: Jan. 19 also happens to be the deadline by which Congress needs to pass a spending bill to avert a government shutdown.
A CHIP deal should be much easier now. The Congressional Budget Office on Friday slashed its estimates of what it would cost to renew federal CHIP funding for five years. That price tag is now at $800 billion — a $7.5 billion discount.
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer will stop trying to develop treatments for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, Reuters reports. The company will lay off 300 people and reallocate its spending toward work that’s more likely to yield profitable drugs.
The numbers that matter:
Go deeper: All medical research is hard, but Alzheimer’s — and the brain, generally — is especially daunting. I profiled some of the scientists trying to come up with new Alzheimer’s treatments back in 2014.
Bob Hugin, executive chairman of the pharmaceutical company Celgene, might run against Sen. Bob Menendez, Politico reports. Menendez is up for re-election this year; his corruption trial recently ended in a mistrial.
Between the lines: My colleague Bob Herman notes that Hugin is one of the only health care executives who actively supported President Trump in 2016, when Trump was saying drug companies were “getting away with murder.”
Robert Weaver, Trump’s nominee to lead the Indian Health Service, says he’s qualified for the job in part because of his experience helping run a Missouri hospital for almost 10 years. But there’s a problem: The Wall Street Journal called some people who worked at the hospital at the same time, and they say Weaver wasn’t nearly as senior as he claims.
What they're saying, per WSJ:
Response: “Any suggestion Mr. Weaver is unqualified to run IHS is a pure act of character assassination,” an HHS spokeswoman told the WSJ.
Why it matters: The IHS is a critically important agency, with an annual budget of roughly $6 billion — and a lot of problems. The extent of Weaver’s management experience is relevant because it’s part of the rationale for entrusting him to execute the turnaround that tribes say the IHS desperately needs.
I noted in Friday’s Vitals that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is planning a briefing for the public about what to do in the event of a nuclear blast.
It was hard not to notice that the announcement coincided with Trump’s brinkmanship with North Korea, but lest you think the whole thing was some wildly elaborate CDC subtweet, the agency says planning for this presentation began last April.
What we’re watching this week: Bob is going to be in San Francisco all week for the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, so stay tuned for a heavy dose of health care business coverage. And email him at email@example.com if you’ll be there, too.
The Senate Finance Committee holds its confirmation hearing Tuesday for Alex Azar, Trump’s nominee for HHS secretary. Also on Tuesday, the HELP Committee will hold a hearing on the opioid crisis.
Trump gets a physical exam on Friday.
Congress has 11 days to avert a government shutdown.
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