From Politico

Why Democrats Keep Winning on Health Care

November 6, 2019

Voters in Virginia and Kentucky sent a clear message on health care Tuesday night: Medicaid expansion and preexisting conditions are winning issues for Democrats, even as President Donald Trump and his allies try to undercut Obamacare. And strident GOP attacks on abortion weren’t enough to stave off Republican losses.

Democrat Andy Beshear, who claimed victory in Kentucky’s tight gubernatorial race, and Virginia Democrats who took back control of the state legislature promised to defend Obamacare’s popular insurance protections for preexisting conditions, and they railed against Republican plans to contract the law’s expansion of Medicaid to millions of poor adults.

Voters in Virginia and Kentucky sent a clear message on health care Tuesday night: Medicaid expansion and preexisting conditions are winning issues for Democrats, even as President Donald Trump and his allies try to undercut Obamacare. And strident GOP attacks on abortion weren’t enough to stave off Republican losses.

Democrat Andy Beshear, who claimed victory in Kentucky’s tight gubernatorial race, and Virginia Democrats who took back control of the state legislature promised to defend Obamacare’s popular insurance protections for preexisting conditions, and they railed against Republican plans to contract the law’s expansion of Medicaid to millions of poor adults.

Here are four takeaways on how health care pushed Democrats over the top Tuesday night…

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Why North Carolina Might Be the Most Innovative Health Care State in America

October 24, 2019

Two top Obamacare officials spent years in their Washington offices, right next door for a time, thinking about how to fix health care.

Then both came to North Carolina, determined to put their ideas to the test in the real world. One runs the state Health and Human Services Department, including Medicaid. The other led the state’s dominant private insurer. Combined, they cover well over 6 million people, more than half the state.

Two top Obamacare officials spent years in their Washington offices, right next door for a time, thinking about how to fix health care.

Then both came to North Carolina, determined to put their ideas to the test in the real world. One runs the state Health and Human Services Department, including Medicaid. The other led the state’s dominant private insurer. Combined, they cover well over 6 million people, more than half the state.

Together, they made North Carolina arguably the most innovative state in the country when it comes to improving how health care is delivered and addressing the underlying social and economic drivers, like homelessness, of poor health and high costs….

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Drug Prices Persistently Rising Despite Trump Efforts

July 2, 2019

Prescription drug prices jumped 10.5 percent over the past six months, more slowly than during the same period last year but still four times faster than inflation, despite increasing pressure on drugmakers from the Trump administration and Congress.

However, the top drug brands in the U.S. saw prices rise by an average of only 3.1 percent over the past six months according to Bernstein analysts, who calculated the average based on which brands — usually the top-sellers — they cover.

Prescription drug prices jumped 10.5 percent over the past six months, more slowly than during the same period last year but still four times faster than inflation, despite increasing pressure on drugmakers from the Trump administration and Congress.

However, the top drug brands in the U.S. saw prices rise by an average of only 3.1 percent over the past six months according to Bernstein analysts, who calculated the average based on which brands — usually the top-sellers — they cover.

The data showing an overall leap in generic and brand-name prices was preliminary and may not give a clear picture of trends in the industry. Yet while many of the price hikes on Monday were for lower-cost drugs, and a handful of branded products fell in price, critics of the drug industry were quick to pounce….

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‘They’re All Fighting Him’: Trump Aides Spar With Health Secretary

June 19, 2019

White House officials have soured on HHS Secretary Alex Azar, a deepening quarrel that threatens to derail President Donald Trump’s health care agenda as he gears up for his 2020 reelection campaign.

The divide has led to stalled projects, disputes over Medicaid and fetal tissue research, duplicated work on Trump’s drug pricing priorities — and bitter personal attacks, say a dozen current and former White House and HHS officials as well as multiple other people familiar with the conversations.

White House officials have soured on HHS Secretary Alex Azar, a deepening quarrel that threatens to derail President Donald Trump’s health care agenda as he gears up for his 2020 reelection campaign.

The divide has led to stalled projects, disputes over Medicaid and fetal tissue research, duplicated work on Trump’s drug pricing priorities — and bitter personal attacks, say a dozen current and former White House and HHS officials as well as multiple other people familiar with the conversations.

The stakes are further heightened because health care is expected to play a crucial role in the 2020 election, and Trump has repeatedly pledged to soon unveil a plan that is higher quality and less expensive than Obamacare — an ambitious promise that his team of rivals is not ready to deliver on….

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Five Key Questions About the Country’s First Public Option Insurance

May 14, 2019

Washington state formally approved the public option this week, becoming the first state to test a policy that numerous Democratic presidential candidates — including the state’s governor — will tout on the campaign trail.

But the state’s work on the idea is just beginning, and it’s facing a major time crunch to get the plans launched by the legislation’s 2021 start date. State officials must wrestle with key questions about how to design the public plan to make it affordable enough to attract new customers, while ensuring enough hospitals and doctors will join its network.

Washington state formally approved the public option this week, becoming the first state to test a policy that numerous Democratic presidential candidates — including the state’s governor — will tout on the campaign trail.

But the state’s work on the idea is just beginning, and it’s facing a major time crunch to get the plans launched by the legislation’s 2021 start date. State officials must wrestle with key questions about how to design the public plan to make it affordable enough to attract new customers, while ensuring enough hospitals and doctors will join its network.

Here are some unresolved issues state officials will have to confront in the months ahead:

Who can buy the plans and will they be affordable?

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