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4. Political Cartoon: 'Build A Bridge?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Build A Bridge?'" by Lisa Benson.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Physician burnout
May mean life or death for both
Doctors and patients.

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Summaries Of The News:

Health Law

5. Compromise On Health Care Plan Woos Conservatives, But Silence From Moderates Is Deafening

Few moderates have said anything about the new measure beyond that they haven't seen the text yet. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump promises his health plan will have premiums "tumbling down" and a new poll finds that most Republican voters still want the Affordable Care Act repealed.

Politico: Moderates Mum On Repeal Bill Changes That Would Strip Consumer Protections
While hardline House conservatives are falling in line behind the latest Republican Obamacare repeal bill, there's ominous silence from most moderates whose support is also essential to getting the measure passed in the House. The latest version would allow states to opt out of several key Obamacare protections, allowing insurers to charge older and sicker people more than younger and healthier people, according to a summary obtained by POLITICO. So far, none of the moderates who opposed an earlier repeal bill have publicly committed to supporting the latest version. (Haberkorn, Dawsey and Cancryn, 4/24)

Politico: Trump Pledges Premiums Will 'Start Tumbling Down' Under His Health Care Plan
President Donald Trump on Monday pledged that his yet-to-be-unveiled health care plan will cause premiums to “start tumbling down” and produce “real” health care. “If our healthcare plan is approved, you will see real healthcare and premiums will start tumbling down,” Trump said on Twitter. “ObamaCare is in a death spiral!” (Conway, 4/24)

In related news —

Kaiser Health News: HHS, States Move To Help Insurers Defray Costs Of Sickest Patients
As congressional Republicans’ efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act remain in limbo, the Trump administration and some states are taking steps to help insurers cover the cost of their sickest patients, a move that industry analysts say is critical to keeping premiums affordable for plans sold on the law’s online marketplaces in 2018. This fix is a well-known insurance industry practice called reinsurance. Claims above a certain amount would be paid by the government, reducing insurers’ financial exposure and allowing them to set lower premiums. (Findlay, 4/25)

6. Getting Rid Of Health Law Subsidies Could Cost Government Billions More Than It Would Save

A new study found that taxpayers would end up paying 23 percent more than the potential savings from eliminating the health law's "cost-sharing" subsidies.

The Associated Press: Study: Trump's Hardball Tactic On Health Care May Backfire
Going into this week's federal budget battle, the White House toyed with a hardball tactic to force congressional Democrats to negotiate on President Donald Trump's priorities. They just might eliminate billions of dollars in disputed "Obamacare" subsidies. But a study out Tuesday from a nonpartisan group suggests that could backfire. Stopping the Affordable Care Act payments at issue may actually wind up costing the federal government billions more than it would save. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 4/25)

USA Today: Ending One Obamacare Subsidy Would Increase Costs Of Another
Ending one of the private insurance subsidies created by Obamacare to help more than 7 million people pay for their coverage would end up costing — not saving — the federal government money, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation released Tuesday. That’s because stopping subsidies for out-of-pocket costs like deductibles would indirectly increase the cost of a broader subsidy which helps reduce monthly premium costs. (Groppe, 4/25)

Capitol Hill Watch

7. Avoiding Shutdown May Overtake Health Care As Congress' No. 1 Priority In The Week Ahead

Despite a renewed push from President Donald Trump to make progress on the Republicans' health care plan, the desire to get a spending bill through may take precedence.

The Associated Press: Gov’t Shutdown, Health Bill Rescue At Stake In Congress 
Bipartisan bargainers are making progress toward a budget deal to prevent a partial federal shutdown this weekend, a major hurdle overcome when President Donald Trump signaled he would put off his demand that the measure include money to build his border wall with Mexico. Republicans are also vetting proposed changes to their beleaguered health care bill that they hope will attract enough votes to finally push it through the House. (Fram and Taylor, 4/25)

The Wall Street Journal: Shutdown Threat Moves GOP Health Debate To Back Burner
Congress’s focus on averting a government shutdown this week is likely to push the House GOP debate over their health-care bill to the back burner for now, Republican lawmakers and aides said. President Donald Trump had pressed House Republicans last week to vote as quickly as possible on a modified version of their health bill, which House leaders pulled from the floor last month when it became clear it didn’t have enough support to pass the chamber. (son, 4/24)

WBUR: As Possible Shutdown Looms, Trump Pushes For Health Care And Tax Overhaul 
Congress returns from its two-week recess, and will have to find a way to fund the federal government past Friday at midnight to avert a government shutdown. Also this week, Trump is pushing Congress to take up — and pass — both a revised health care bill and a tax overhaul plan, as he comes up on his 100th day in office. (Young, 4/24)


8. Sanofi Claims Mylan Artificially Bumped Up EpiPen Prices, Then Undercut Competition With Rebates

The drugmaker filed a lawsuit against the troubled EpiPen-maker on Monday. In other pharmaceutical news, The Daily Beast investigates the involvement of Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., with an Australian biotech company, a panel of U.S. scientists is questioning the methodology of an Ebola drug trial, Biogen releases the promising results of a drug to help children with a neuromuscular disease, and one California lawmaker has a plan for lowering drug prices.

Stat: Sanofi Sues Mylan Over Alleged Anti-Competitive Marketing Of EpiPen
In the latest flap over EpiPen, Sanofi filed a lawsuit on Monday alleging that Mylan violated antitrust law by taking several steps to thwart its rival from gaining any traction in the marketplace. Sanofi used to sell Auvi-Q, a different type of auto-injector that provides voice instructions and resembles a deck of cards. Both EpiPen and Auvi-Q provide life-saving doses of epinephrine to individuals suffering from severe allergic reactions. However, Sanofi voluntarily withdrew its device in October 2015 over problems with dosing and the device is now sold by another company called Kaleo. (Swetlitz and Silverman, 4/24)

Bloomberg: Mylan Tried To ‘Squelch’ EpiPen Rival, Sanofi Says In Lawsuit
Mylan, which once controlled more than 90 percent of the market for epinephrine allergy injectors, is already under scrutiny over the skyrocketing prices of its EpiPen product. The company is facing a U.S. antitrust probe of whether it improperly thwarted competition to the blockbuster product. Sanofi claims in its lawsuit that Mylan’s conduct is harming consumers. “To preserve the monopoly position of their $1 billion crown jewel branded drug product, Mylan engaged in illegal conduct to squelch this nascent competition, harming both Sanofi and U.S. consumers,” Sanofi’s lawyers said in the complaint filed in federal court in New Jersey. (Feeley, 4/24)