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President Trump and HHS Secretary Tom Price to hold opioid briefing. The two are scheduled for the briefing this afternoon in Bedminster, N.J., where Trump is staying at his private golf club while renovations are made at the White House. Last week the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis released a list of recommendations, which included urging Trump to declare the crisis a federal state of emergency. “Today, the president will be giving an update on the opioid crisis, an issue that he brought to the forefront of the campaign,” a White House official told the Washington Examiner. “For that reason, he created the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis to ensure our country’s response to this epidemic is comprehensive and effective. The administration is still completing the review process of the recently submitted interim report.” The commission, created in March, is led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Governors in Florida, Arizona and Maryland have declared states of emergency, granting those governments access to millions of dollars.
Also attending will be first lady Melania Trump. "Opioids are destroying our youth/people," she wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning. "Mtg w @Potus & @SecPriceMD today to give my support to #STOPDRUGADDICTION." Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for the first lady, told the Washington Examiner that she was participating because of the impact the epidemic has had on children. "Opioid abuse is an escalating health crisis affecting countless families across the country,” she said. “The well-being of children is a priority for the first lady, and this epidemic affects them in many different ways, so she requested to attend today's briefing.”
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Democrats, some Republicans fight 'bailout' label for Obamacare payments. The label comes from Trump when describing payments to insurers for lowering deductibles for poor people. The pushback could play a key role in landing enough political support for a short-term bipartisan deal to stabilize Obamacare's exchanges, including making the insurer payments. Lawmakers and experts say the cost-sharing reduction payments to lower deductibles and co-pays, known as CSRs, are honoring an agreement to reimburse Obamacare insurers and are not bailouts. Soon after the Senate voted on July 28 against a "skinny" repeal bill, Trump tweeted that if a new healthcare bill isn't brought up again, then "BAILOUTS for insurance companies" would end soon. Trump likely was referring to cost-sharing reduction payments. He has the power to decide whether to make the payments and hasn't told insurers if they will be made next year. But a centrist Republican said that the cost-sharing payments aren't a bailout. "When I hear them described as insurance company bailout that is just not an accurate description," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. Collins was one of three Republicans — alongside Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John McCain of Arizona — who voted to sink the skinny bill aimed at starting new repeal talks with the House. "The reason we have CSRs is to help low-income people who are only between 100-200 percent of the poverty rate afford out-of-pocket costs," Collins said.
Trump gets low marks on healthcare. A new poll found that only 32 percent of respondents approve of the way Trump is handling healthcare, and 59 percent disapprove. The poll from CBS News was conducted nearly a week after the Senate voted 49-51 to defeat the “skinny” Obamacare repeal bill. Trump had called for the Senate to not leave Washington until it voted again on Obamacare repeal. The Senate did not oblige and won’t return until early next month. The poll also found that Trump’s job approval rating isn’t faring much better, with 36 percent approving of him and 58 percent disapproving. That is roughly the same figures as in June. The poll was conducted by telephone Aug. 3-6 among 1,111 adults nationwide.
Anthem to leave Nevada’s Obamacare exchange. Anthem will not sell insurance plans in Obamacare's exchange in Nevada next year, as it becomes the latest insurer to defect from the law's marketplace. Anthem's decision comes as insurers are starting to set their rates and participation in Obamacare's exchanges for 2018. Anthem said its decision to pull back in Nevada was because of problems with enrollment in Obamacare and uncertainty surrounding cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers.
Freedom Partners urges Price to make regulatory changes to Obamacare. In a blog post, spokesman Geoff Holtzman pointed out that the Department of Health and Human Services secretary has enforcement discretion over 1,440 of the law’s regulations. He encouraged allowing states to have more flexibility on the type of health insurance that is sold and through the use of waivers that allow them to craft their own plans. He also suggested allowing people to buy short-term insurance plans for a longer period of time, which could be accomplished by altering an Obama-era regulation that capped them at three months. The group advocates on behalf of conservative principles and is funded by the Koch brothers.
Pro-Obamacare group targets repeal voters. The pro-Obamacare group Save My Care launched a digital ad campaign that targets key House and Senate Republicans who voted in favor of repealing the healthcare law. The ads target three senators and seven House members in an attempt to tie them to votes for unpopular repeal efforts. Of the three Republican senators targeted, two are up for re-election in 2018: Jeff Flake of Arizona and Dean Heller of Nevada. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is also targeted. The House members targeted are Reps. Dave Brat of Virginia, John Faso of New York, Darrell Issa of California, Tom MacArthur of New Jersey, Pete Sessions of Texas, and David Valadao of California.
Rep. Trey Gowdy demands answers on why pro-industry cancer research was buried. The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Tuesday demanded an explanation about why the National Cancer Institute failed to publish evidence that a widely used herbicide does not cause cancer and allowed an international body to conclude that the herbicide is "probably carcinogenic." In a letter to the National Institutes of Health, Gowdy noted that an NCI scientist, Aaron Blair, was a senior researcher who reviewed findings that said there was no evidence glyphosate causes cancer. Glyphosate is the key chemical used in the popular herbicide Roundup. But Reuters reported in June that Blair's finding was never published, and Gowdy said that allowed the International Agency for Research on Cancer to conclude in 2015 that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen. Reuters wrote that Blair believed that if the buried research had been included in the IARC study, it probably would have reversed the IARC's conclusion. Gowdy's letter asked NIH for documentation related to the NCI's decision to withhold Blair's research.
Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Jon Tester, D-Mont., target doctor shortages. Their bill, the Training the Next Generation of Primary Care Doctors Act, would strengthen the Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education Program and reauthorize it for three years. The program trains doctors in lower-income and rural parts of the country. “This legislation would extend an important program to address the shortage of primary care doctors, which is especially critical in rural and underserved communities that are often those hardest hit by the opioid epidemic,” Collins said. By 2025, the U.S. is estimated to need more than 100,000 new primary care doctors. “By getting more doctors into our rural hospitals and clinics we can provide a boost to rural America and ensure that folks living in in small towns aren’t forced to endure dangerously long distances to see a doctor,” Tester said.
Appalachians die faster than rest of the U.S. A new study found that the Appalachian region has not only a lower life expectancy but also a higher infant mortality rate than the rest of the country. The study looked at life expectancy and infant mortality from 1990 to 2013 in Appalachia, a 205,000-square mile region that stretches across 12 states from northern Mississippi to New York. Researchers found that health disparities between the rural, traditionally impoverished region and the rest of the country are widening. In the early 1990s, life expectancy was seven months less in Appalachia compared to the rest of the U.S. But by the end of the study period, the difference in life expectancy had grown to 2.4 years. In 1990, the infant mortality rate was about the same in the U.S. and Appalachia. However, by the end of the study period in 2013, it had ballooned to 16 percent higher in Appalachia.
Deaths from Alzheimer’s, drug overdoses on the rise. Here are some numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which analyzed the top 15 causes of death last year:
*Deaths from Alzheimer’s disease increased to 37.2 per 100,000 people during the first quarter of 2017, up from 34.2 per 100,000 people in the first quarter of 2016.
*Deaths from drug overdoses increased to 18.5 per 100,000 people in 2016, up from 16.1 per 100,000 people in 2015.
*Deaths from heart disease increased to 197.5 per 100,000 people during the first quarter of 2017, up from 195.1 per 100,000 people a year earlier.
Trump’s lawyer goes to Supreme Court over abortion videos. A nonprofit led by a lawyer for Trump, Jay Sekulow, is asking the Supreme Court to review a federal court's blocking of the publication of surreptitiously recorded videos involving abortion providers. The American Center for Law and Justice petitioned the high court to review a federal district court’s injunction blocking the publication and release of secretly recorded videos at National Abortion Federation conferences. Abortion foe David Daleiden, head of the Center for Medical Progress, released a series of videos two years ago raising questions about whether Planned Parenthood profited from fetal tissue or performed illegal abortions to obtain it. As part of his work, he attended the National Abortion Federation conferences while disguised, which the federation brought a case against.
Mayo Clinic tops U.S. News rankings. The Rochester, Minn., hospital came in at No. 1 in U.S. News & World Report’s annual Best Hospital rankings, topping the Honor Roll for the second consecutive year. In the specialty rankings, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center ranked No. 1 in cancer, the Cleveland Clinic is first in cardiology and heart surgery, and Hospital for Special Surgery in New York is No. 1 in orthopedics.
Fire alarm ends VA secretary's speech on innovation. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin was forced to end his speech about VA innovations early on Tuesday because of a fire alarm. Shulkin was speaking at Georgetown University about innovative steps the VA is taking to improve healthcare access for veterans, when a fire alarm suddenly blared out. "Now, the question is, what do we do?" he said as the audience laughed. "Let's see if somebody comes and tells us ..." An automated voice then said that a fire was reported, and that everyone should leave the building. "I guess we should, probably should leave, right?" he asked. "Sorry about this, but I think we should probably exit the building." Shulkin and the audience were able to return soon after, allowing him to finish his remarks.
Politico Sanders “litmus test” alarms Democrats
Associated Press Trump’s role may shift to caretaker on healthcare
New York Times Facing Trump’s subsidy cuts, health insurance officials seek a backup plan
Reuters FDA to launch campaign against e-cigarette use among youths
NPR How smartphones are making today’s teens unhappy
STAT News A doctor’s murder over an opioid prescription leaves an Indiana city with no easy answers
LA Times ‘May you die in pain:’ GOP lawmaker gets earful at town hall
TUESDAY | Aug. 8
Aug. 6-9. Philadelphia Marriott. National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ summer conference. Details.
8 a.m.-6 p.m. 37th and O streets NW. Georgetown University. VA Innovation Demo Day with Secretary David Shulkin. Details.
3 p.m. Bedminster, N.J. President Trump to hold an opioid briefing with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
WEDNESDAY | Aug. 9
9:30 a.m. 529 14th St. NW. National Press Club. Family, Career and Community Leaders of America will raise awareness of the need for safer intersections near schools and announce the results of their Teen Road Safety Assessment initiative. Details.
THURSDAY | Aug. 10
11 a.m. S&P Global Ratings webcast on “U.S. Health Insurance: Earnings, Regulations And Credit Trends.” Details.
12:30 p.m. 2055 L St. NW. Center for Global Development on “Implementing Clinical Trials during Epidemics: The Ebola Experience.” Details.