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Axios (5/7/2021): Democrats are still looking for a plan on drug prices — Democrats have no workable plan to tackle the cost of prescription drugs, even with full control of Washington and after campaigning on the issue for years.


Politico (5/6/2021): HALF OF AMERICANS FEAR RISING HEALTH COSTS — Some 53 percent of Americans say health care costs are rising to the point they’ll become unaffordable, according to a new Gallup poll conducted for the advocacy group West Health. A similar proportion — 52 percent — think the same about prescription drugs, POLITICO’s Susannah Luthi reports.


The Hill (5/6/2021): Gillibrand touts legislation to lower drug costs: This idea 'is deeply bipartisan' — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) this week touted legislation aimed at lowering the cost of prescription drugs for Americans, calling it a "deeply bipartisan" issue.


Politico (5/5/2021): E&C tees up Becerra hearing — The health secretary will defend Biden’s budget request in front of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee next week, where he’ll likely be grilled on both the pandemic response and the department’s care of rising numbers of unaccompanied immigrant minors.


Politico (5/5/2021): ANOTHER HOUSE COMMITTEE CONVENES ON DRUG COSTS — The House Education and Labor Committee meets today to discuss slashing high prices for medicines, a hearing that is sure to feature some of the same pitches for squeezing health care reform into the American Families Plan that we saw in Tuesday’s Energy and Commerce hearing on drug prices.


Politico (5/4/2021): ANTI-DRUG BILL CAMPAIGN LAUNCHES — Conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity on Monday launched a new ad campaign aimed squarely at swing-state Democrats thinking of backing Pelosi’s H.R. 3.


The Hill (5/4/2021): Pallone commits to using 'whatever vehicle I can' to pass Democrats' drug pricing bill — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) on Tuesday said he would use “whatever vehicle I can” to pass the Democrats’ drug pricing bill, known as H.R. 3, that would allow the federal government to negotiate for decreased prices on behalf of Medicare.


Politico (5/4/2021): CASSIDY, HASSAN JUMP INTO ‘SURPRISE’ BILLING WATCH — Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H) — whose alliance helped drive a more provider-friendly version of Congress’ recent ban on “surprise” medical bill — last week formally outlined their vision for the law’s implementation. Lobbying around the policy is heating up as officials work to finalize rules by the end of the year.


Politico (5/4/2021): HOUSE HEARING ON DRUG PRICES SPOTLIGHTS NEGOTIATION — One of the bills on today’s agenda before the House Energy and Commerce Committee will be H.R. 3 (117), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s sweeping measure to empower Medicare to bargain down the cost of hundreds of drugs, Alice Miranda Ollstein writes.


Modern Healthcare (5/3/2021): Telehealth can increase nurses' workloads, study finds — Nurses performed about twice as many activities with telehealth patients compared to in-person patients.


Axios 
(5/3/2021): Telehealth utilization dropped in February — Telehealth utilization among those with private insurance fell by 16% from January to February this year, the first month-to-month drop since September, according to FAIR Health's Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker.


Politico (4/30/2021): FDA PANEL SPLITS ON CANCER DRUGS WITH UNCERTAIN BENEFITS — An FDA panel voted this week against limiting the approved uses of Genentech’s Tecentriq, Merck’s Keytruda and Bristol Myers Squibb’s Opdivo, POLITICO’s Sarah Owermohle and David Lim report.


Politico (4/30/2021): HILL DEMOCRATS DOUBLE DOWN ON DRUG PRICING — Senior Democrats’ last-ditch effort to set prescription drug pricing controls as part of Biden’s spending package comes in defiance of the White House’s decision to drop drug pricing from its proposal, and with the party still split over how exactly to slash costs, POLITICO’s Susannah Luthi and Alice Miranda Ollstein report.


The Hill (4/30/2021): Democrats push to add drug pricing, Medicare measures to Biden plan — Leading congressional Democrats are pushing to add drug pricing measures and even an expansion of Medicare eligibility to President Biden's American Families Plan after the White House left the proposals out of the $1.8 trillion package.


Modern Healthcare (4/29/2021): Ways & Means reps. bullish on telehealth, but say questions remain — Health equity was a major concern at the hearing hosted by the House Ways and Means Committee's Subcommittee on Health.


Politico (4/29/2021): CORPORATE LEADERS WANT STRONGER FEDERAL CONTROLS ON HEALTH COSTS — The cost of health insurance will reach a breaking point in the next decade — and it’ll be up to the government to step in with more coverage offerings and spending controls, an overwhelming majority of executives said in a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation and Purchaser Business Group on Health.


Politico (4/29/2021): BIDEN WANTS TO GO BIG ON HEALTH CARE … EVENTUALLY — For much of his 65-minute speech Wednesday night, Biden spoke like a president dead set on transforming the entirety of the nation’s health system.


Modern Healthcare (4/28/2021): Biden backs ACA expansion in next relief package, but no drug pricing reform — President Biden will unveil his "American Families Plan" to Congress. The proposal includes making permanent changes to ACA subsidies but doesn't lay out drug pricing reform, a major ask of Democrats and advocates.


The Hill (4/28/2021): Biden calls on Congress to pass drug pricing legislation this year — President Biden on Wednesday called for Congress to pass legislation this year that would lower prescription drug prices, seeking to accomplish a long-held Democratic goal.


Politico (4/28/2021): FDA SCRUTINIZES PRICEY CANCER DRUGS — What should be done about expensive cancer drugs on the market that might not work? That could be the first thorny question to confront Woodcock, who is acting FDA commissioner while Biden weighs whether to nominate her for the full-time role.


The Hill (4/28/2021): Biden plan omits major health care measures pushed by Democrats — President Biden’s American Families Plan unveiled Wednesday leaves out two major health priorities pushed by congressional Democrats: reducing the cost of prescription drugs and lowering the eligibility age for Medicare.


Politico (4/28/2021): BIDEN’s NEW ECONOMIC PLAN LEAVES HEALTH BATTLES BEHIND — The sweeping American Families Plan that Biden plans to unveil today is heavy on spending but light on Democratic health care ambitions.


Axios 
(4/27/2021): Drug pricing legislation hits a wall — The White House is unlikely to include a major effort to lower prescription drug prices in its upcoming legislative package, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.


Politico (4/27/2021): DEMOCRATS BRACE FOR DRUG PRICING FIGHT — The Biden administration has yet to pick a fight with the drug industry, despite calls from his party to include reforms in the next coronavirus relief package. If he abandons those calls — which advocates say could save billions — that’ll put pressure on progressives and moderates in swing states who want to deliver on years of campaign pledges to tackle high drug costs — and worry their Democratic majority is in jeopardy if they don’t, write Alice Miranda Ollstein and Susannah Luthi.


Politico (4/26/2021): ANOTHER LOBBYING BLITZ ON ‘SURPRISE’ HOSPITAL BILLS — Remember the lobbying onslaught from the health care industry that nearly stopped Congress from passing a nationwide ban on “surprise” medical bills? We do too — and there’s another one coming, as the same powerful groups race to sway federal agencies tasked with making the new law work, Susannah writes.


Politico (4/26/2021): DEMOCRATS TO BIDEN: DON’T ABANDON HEALTH PROMISES — Democrats on and off Capitol Hill are escalating their public pressure campaign ahead of a Wednesday speech where Biden will outline his “human infrastructure” plan, our Alice Miranda Ollstein and Susannah Luthi report.


Modern Healthcare (4/23/2021): House Democrats back Medicare drug price negotiations in infrastructure talks — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said she hopes to include provisions allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices in an infrastructure bill. But the path forward remains uncertain.


Politico (4/23/2021): DEMOCRATS DIAL UP HEAT ON BIDEN OVER HEALTH CARE — Senior House Democrats this week reintroduced their sweeping drug price negotiation legislation amid a flurry of revivals of health care bills, and on Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi called lowering health care costs and drug prices through the infrastructure plan a “top priority” for her caucus.


Axios 
(4/22/2021): How the pandemic changed drug spending — Spending on prescription drugs rose even during the pandemic when many people delayed care. And it will probably continue its rise this year, Axios' Tina Reed reports.


Politico (4/22/2021): HOUSE DEMS REVIVE SWEEPING DRUG PRICE BILL — Senior House Democrats are reintroducing legislation empowering the government to negotiate the cost of certain costly drugs, in a revival of one of the party’s centerpiece drug pricing proposals, an aide familiar with the matter told PULSE.


The Hill (4/22/2021): Pelosi pushes for drug pricing measure amid uncertainty from White House — Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is pushing for the inclusion of a measure to lower drug prices in President Biden's forthcoming American Families Plan, amid indications that the White House will not include it.


Politico (4/22/2021): BIDEN's CMS PICK FACES STIFF SENATE TEST — The Senate Finance Committee will decide whether to advance Chiquita Brooks-LaSure’s nomination to run CMS today, in a vote that could be closer than first expected amid GOP criticism over the agency’s decision to rescind Texas’ Medicaid waiver.


Modern Healthcare (4/21/2021): Telehealth increases downstream care, study finds — More than 10% of the telehealth users had an in-person visit the next week, compared with 5.9% of patients who went to a clinic.


The Hill (4/21/2021): House Dems to unveil drug pricing measure ahead of Biden package — House Democrats are preparing to reintroduce major legislation to lower drug prices ahead of President Biden's unveiling of his American Families Plan, which could include the proposals.


Politico (4/21/2021): CORNYN PUTS BIDEN’s CMS PICK ON HOLD — Cornyn is blocking the Senate confirmation of CMS Administrator nominee Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, in what a spokesperson described as payback for Biden revoking Texas’ Medicaid waiver — and with it, funding to cover poor and uninsured Texans’ health care.


The Hill (4/20/2021): Bipartisan lawmakers weigh in on post-pandemic health care costs — Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) said Tuesday that lowering health care costs should be one of the top priorities as the U.S. emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.


Modern Healthcare (4/20/2021): 10% of prescription drugs make up majority of Medicare drug spending, study finds — Under 10% of medications covered by Medicare part B and D account for the majority of relative spending, according to a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Legislation aimed at lowering drug costs is expected in Biden's upcoming infrastructure bill.


The Hill (4/20/2021): Cornyn places hold on Biden Medicaid nominee — Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) is placing a hold on President Biden’s nominee to oversee Medicaid, an apparent sign of the anger from Republicans over the withdrawal of Texas’s Medicaid waiver last week.


Modern Healthcare (4/19/2021): Payers, providers clash over telehealth reimbursement as Congress mulls changes — As members of Congress decide how to expand access to telehealth after the pandemic, one of the biggest questions has centered around how much Medicare providers should be paid for virtual care.


Politico (4/16/2021): Democrats agonize over game theory on Biden’s $2T-plus spending plan — President Joe Biden is rolling out his multitrillion-dollar spending package in two parts, hoping to market its sweeping scope as infrastructure both concrete and human. Now Republicans have to decide if they’ll buy it.


Politico (4/16/2021): Dems weigh narrower health ambitions for infrastructure package — The “social infrastructure” piece of the $2 trillion-plus bill would be progressive lawmakers’ best chance to broaden the social safety net before the mid-term election.