Overnight Health Care: Trump unhappy with Price over private jet use | Trump to allow insurance plans to be sold across state lines | Dems want probe into ObamaCare website shutdowns

President Trump refused to rule out the possibility of firing Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceWork requirements exactly what Ohio needs to roll back the ObamaCare disaster Price says working toward declaring opioid crisis national emergency Declare a true state of emergency MORE, saying he’s “not happy” with his use of a private plane. 

“I am not happy about it. I’m going to look at it. I am not happy about it and I let him know it,” Trump said at the White House.  

“We’ll see,” Trump said in response to questions about whether he planned to fire Price. 

Trump spoke to reporters Wednesday on the South Lawn ahead of his trip to Indiana to tout his plan to overhaul the tax code.

The comments could increase pressure on Price to leave his post.

The top health official has been embroiled in controversy since it was revealed he took more than two dozen flights on private planes since May, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Politico first reported Price’s use of the planes.

Price has said he will stop taking private flights while the agency’s inspector general conducts a review.

“I don’t think there will be any charter trips until this review is complete,” Price said this week on Fox News. “I think that’s appropriate because of the concerns that we’ve heard.”

But Price has continued to defend the flights, saying they did not violate federal travel rules.

Read more here.

 

Oversight panel to investigate Cabinet’s use of private planes 

The House Oversight Committee will also investigate the use of private jet travel by Cabinet officials.

The committee on Wednesday sent letters to the White House and 24 federal agencies requesting information related to senior officials’ use of government-owned aircraft or private non-commercial aircraft for official and personal travel.

The investigation comes amid scrutiny of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin taking government-owned or charter jets at taxpayers’ expense when there were commercial flight options that were much cheaper.

Read more here.

 

Democrats seized on the controversy, calling for Price to resign

Democratic lawmakers began calling for Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to resign on Wednesday following a series of reports about his use of private jets at taxpayers’ expense.

Five House Democrats joined together to demand Price’s resignation, hours after President Trump said he’s “not happy” with his health secretary’s pattern of costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to ride on private planes.

“At a minimum, the American people expect cabinet secretaries to lead with integrity, accept accountability, and use public resources responsibly. In light of your breach of the public trust, we write to urge you to do the right thing and immediately tender your resignation,” Democratic Reps. Ruben Gallego (Ariz.), Ted Lieu (Calif.), Brenda Lawrence (Mich.), Jamie Raskin (Md.) and Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) wrote in a letter to Price.

They are the first lawmakers to urge Price’s dismissal, with other members of both parties so far only calling for investigations into his private jet use.

Read more here.

 

Poll: Majority view Price’s use of private jet as ‘inappropriate’ 

A majority of voters think it is inappropriate for Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to use private jets for official business, a new poll released Wednesday shows. 

The poll specifically asked voters about five private flights he took two weeks ago along the east coast. 

Sixty-four percent of voters said the flights were inappropriate, while 16 percent said they were appropriate, according to the Politico-Morning Consult poll. 

Still, many voters say they haven’t heard about the controversy.

Read more here.

 

Trump plans order allowing insurance sold across state lines 

President Trump on Wednesday said he is considering an executive order to allow health insurance to be purchased across state lines.

Trump told reporters at the White House that he plans to issue a “very major” executive order, probably next week, “where people can go out across state lines, do lots of things, and buy their own health care.”

Trump said the order is “being finished now. It’s going to cover a lot of territory and a lot of people — millions of people.”

Selling insurance across state lines is an idea Republicans have long backed. They say competition will help drive down prices.

Experts said it’s not clear what an executive order on selling insurance plans across state lines would do.

Under ObamaCare, states are already allowed to let insurers sell plans outside their borders. No states have chosen to do so.   

The executive order could also be portrayed as contrary to the Republican pledge of returning health care power to the states, which was the main argument behind the multiple ObamaCare repeal attempts.

Read more here.

 

Drugmakers back limiting opioid supplies

A powerful drug industry trade group announced its support for limiting a patient’s supply of opioids to seven days for first-time acute pain treatment, as a way to curb the opioid epidemic plaguing the country.

“Too often individuals receive a 30-day supply of opioid medicines for minor treatments or short-term pain,” Stephen Ubl, president and CEO of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said.

“Our announcement is candidly an unprecedented step for the industry,” Ubl said Wednesday at a meeting of the president’s opioid commission. “We’ve always supported physician autonomy and the preservation of the physician-patient relationship, but as you know, given the scope of this crisis, we believe it’s the right thing to do.”

Read more here.

 

Senate Dems demand investigation into ObamaCare website shutdowns 

A group of Senate Democrats on Wednesday called for an investigation into the Trump administration’s decision to periodically shut down the federal ObamaCare exchange website in the middle of the next open enrollment period.

Sens. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Equifax suffered hack months earlier than the date it disclosed Spicer says he wore disguise while traveling to Emmys appearance MORE (Hawaii), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Trump bets base will stick with him on immigration Dems call for action against Cassidy-Graham ObamaCare repeal MORE (Mass.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Grassley: ‘Good chance’ Senate panel will consider bills to protect Mueller Overnight Finance: GOP plans to unveil tax framework in late September | Critical stretch for Trump tax team | Equifax CEO called to testify | Sanders unveils single-payer bill MORE (N.J.) and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphySenate Dem: Graham-Cassidy is an ‘intellectual and moral garbage truck fire’ Dems call for action against Cassidy-Graham ObamaCare repeal Murphy fires back at Trump on filibuster MORE (Conn.) asked the Department of Health and Human Services’s inspector general to investigate plans for hours-long maintenance shutdowns of the HealthCare.gov website.

“There has been no satisfactory explanation given for why these shutdowns are necessary, and they appear to be part of a pattern by the Trump administration to sabotage the Affordable Care Act,” the senators wrote in a letter to the inspector general’s office.

Read more here.

 

Senate passes bipartisan Medicare reform bill 

The Senate on Tuesday night unanimously passed a bill aimed at making Medicare more efficient and saving it money.

The passage of the under-the-radar bipartisan health-care reforms came on the same day that Senate Republicans abandoned a vote on a bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

The bipartisan bill that passed Tuesday night, known as the CHRONIC Care Act, expands some programs created by the Affordable Care Act, but they are more obscure programs that are largely outside the realm of controversy.

Read more here.

 

Problem Solvers Caucus pushes to stabilize insurance markets 

The House Problem Solvers Caucus is urging congressional leaders to consider bipartisan health-care policies aimed at stabilizing the insurance markets.

“When we work across the aisle and govern together, Democrats and Republicans alike can find consensus on real solutions for the American people,” the group wrote to Democratic and Republican leaders in both chambers.

“We won’t all get everything we want, but we can work together to reduce health care costs, especially to address the looming deadlines that will dramatically impact next year’s premiums.”

Read more here.

 

GOP senator probes rising Medicaid costs 

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Sen. Cassidy plans to bring down Medicaid Senate committee schedules hearing on health care block grants MORE (R-Wis.) is investigating whether certain states are receiving more federal Medicaid dollars than they should, leading to burgeoning costs.

Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is making the push one day after the ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill that he cosponsored failed.

His letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and eight governors points to rising costs under the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid.

Read more here.

 

GOP senators push for delay of ObamaCare insurer tax   

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and 10 Senate Republicans introduced a bill Tuesday to delay an ObamaCare insurer tax before it goes into effect next year.

The health insurance tax, a fee on insurance companies to help pay for health care subsidies, is slated to return in 2018 after a one-year hiatus.

“With the faulty architecture of Obamacare continuing to burden middle class families, this legislation would provide relief from Obamacare’s health insurance tax that serves to further increase skyrocketing premiums,” Johnson said in a statement.  

Read more here.

 

Murkowski: ObamaCare bill ‘needs to be bipartisan’ 

 Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Collins skeptical of new ObamaCare repeal effort How Senate relationships could decide ObamaCare repeal MORE (R-Alaska) said Wednesday that ObamaCare-related legislation “needs to be bipartisan” following the collapse of GOP efforts to repeal the health-care law this week.

“You know what, I think it needs to be bipartisan and that’s why I’m working with Sen. Alexander and Sen. Murray,” Murkowski said when asked whether a Republican-only ObamaCare bill could pass next year.

Read more here.

 

What we’re reading: 

Teen births have plummeted 51 percent over the past decade (Vox)

Association of Health Care Journalists calls for improved media access to top federal health officials (healthjournalism.org)

How failure of the ObamaCare repeal affects consumers (The New York Times)

 

State by state 

Colorado hospitals owed millions in unpaid Medicaid claims (The Journal)

Health expenses vary greatly by state (U.S. News & World Report)

Advocates seek tighter rules in Ohio nursing homes after Florida deaths (cleveland.com)

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