Daily on Healthcare: 2020 Democrats ready to go further than Trump on vaping

By | January 7, 2020

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2020 DEMOCRATS POISED FOR TOUGH ACTIONS ON VAPING: Democrats vying to defeat President Trump in November say they’re prepared to take far more aggressive actions against e-cigarettes than the Trump administration has.

Last week, the White House announced it would be banning all flavored e-cigarettes, with the exception of tobacco and menthol, and that it would also allow “open tank” products to remain on the market. The announcement received criticism from public health groups, who want menthol banned and want all products to undergo review by the Food and Drug Administration before they’re allowed to be sold.

But Trump backed off harsher regulations after seeing data about how they might lower his re-election chances.

Joe Biden said recently that there must be “serious scientific data as to whether or not it has the kind of long-term damage on the lungs and it causes death before we allow it to be sold,” according to Bloomberg.

The conservative Americans for Tax Reform also posted a video of Biden saying that if studies show that the products damage the lungs then he would “eliminate” the products and “go after it in a hard way. I would make it broader, not just where [Trump] is.” “I choose science over fiction,” Biden said. “And so if the science has demonstrated is doing great damage then I don’t care what it does to a small business person who’s selling this stuff.”

Bernie Sanders said he would “shut down” the industry, according to Politico, but then his adviser walked the comments back. Sanders had said the answer was to “shut down the industry if they’re causing addiction and if the evidence is that people are getting sick as a result or inhaling a lot of bad stuff.” After that, adviser Jeff Weaver told Politico that Sanders was not talking about immediately shutting down the industry, but would want more studies and regulations to make sure e-cigarettes are safe. Note that there was decades of data on traditional cigarette use before the government cracked down on smoking.

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We’ll be watching to see how other candidates respond to similar questions, but a couple have given indications based on their actions in Congress. In the Senate, Elizabeth Warren has called on the FDA to review the products, which the industry equates to a ban because smaller manufacturers say they don’t have the financial wherewithal to undergo review. Amy Klobuchar slammed Trump back in November when it became clear the administration wouldn’t be enacting the crackdown it previously promised, calling it “yet another example of how his administration prioritizes corporate interests over people.”

Good morning and welcome to the Washington Examiner’s Daily on Healthcare! This newsletter is written by senior healthcare reporter Kimberly Leonard (@LeonardKL) and healthcare reporter Cassidy Morrison (@CassMorrison94). You can reach us with tips, calendar items, or suggestions at dailyonhealthcare@washingtonexaminer.com. If someone forwarded you this email and you’d like to receive it regularly, you can subscribe here.

MEDICAL DEBT ABSENT FROM WARREN BANKRUPTCY PLAN: The 2020 Democratic contender’s list of ways to help families who go broke doesn’t include any mention of helping people get out of medical debt.

This is notable because when Warren was a professor she co-authored an academic paper in 2005 that claimed more than 40% of all bankruptcies in America were a result of medical problems. That study has been widely debunked, given that other factors besides medical costs, such as job loss during treatment for a serious illness or falling behind on payments, tend to be larger factors. But the figure was cited by a lot of politicians who sought to expand health insurance across the U.S. Now, Warren’s rhetoric on the issue appears to have changed. In her plan she writes that data show “nearly 90% of these families were declaring bankruptcy for one of three reasons: a job loss, a medical problem, or a family breakup.”

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NEW INNOVATION CENTER CHIEF HAS BACKGROUND OFFERING SERVICES TO PATIENTS LIKELY TO DIE: The Trump administration announced Monday that Brad Smith will take the reins at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, an agency created by Obamacare that tries different healthcare payment arrangements to save money and improve patient outcomes.

The nomination, which doesn’t require congressional confirmation, was expected, and we’ll be watching to see whether there’s any backlash. Smith, 36, co-founded and oversaw a Nashville-based startup called Aspire Health that offered services to patients who were likely to die. The company uses algorithms to identify patients with serious medical conditions, many of whom have only a year to live, and helps those who don’t want intensive medical care to get palliative care, which helps people relieve suffering at home until they die or recover.

SCOTUS ASKS ANTI-OBAMACARE STATES TO RESPOND TO PETITION: The Supreme Court is giving red states and the Trump administration until Friday afternoon to respond to a petition from blue states asking the justices to quickly take up the Texas v. Azar case, which has the potential to throw out the entire healthcare law. The Supreme Court is considering whether to take it up this term, before the lower courts litigate on it. If they do, it would cause a decision on Obamacare’s future to land just ahead of the 2020 election.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD PERFORMED NEARLY 13,000 MORE ABORTIONS IN LATEST FISCAL YEAR: Planned Parenthood’s annual report published last week revealed that the organization performed 345,672 abortions in its latest fiscal year, a 12,915 jump from the previous year, even though the group’s been facing pressure from the Trump administration and Republicans.

Financial support is down: Overall, the organization’s revenues decreased by about $ 17.5 million, to $ 1.4 billion. The decrease is largely due to a lower number of individual financial contributors, which have dropped significantly by about 400,000 from the year before.

FATHERS NEED CHANGING TABLES TOO: Dads-turned-advocates are fighting for wider efforts to install diaper changing tables in men’s restrooms, especially as more men take on greater responsibility in caring for children. In this week’s Washington Examiner magazine, Kimberly writes about fathers who are tired of changing their children’s diapers on bathroom floors, counters, and in some cases, on their laps. Read more here.

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CASSIDY (THE LOUISIANA SENATOR) DEMANDS IMPROVED DISABILITIES ACCOMMODATIONS FOR MCAT TEST TAKERS: Republican Senator Bill Cassidy urged the Association of American Medical Colleges to improve practices for accommodating students who have learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, who take the MCAT. While about 14% of students have a learning disability, Cassidy wrote only 0.3% of MCAT test takers received accommodations for a disability.

NURSES HIGHEST RATED FOR ETHICS AND HONEST, LEAVING MEMBERS OF CONGRESS IN THE DUST: A Gallup survey found that 85% of the public find nurses to be the most honest and ethical professionals in 2019 for the fourth year in a row. Members of Congress, on the other hand, were second to last when it came to both criteria, with 12% of the public’s support. They ranked just above car salespeople in last place, and have maintained their ranking on the list for the past three years. But at least they’re consistent. That counts for something, right?

The Rundown

Reuters Drug developers take fresh aim at ‘guided-missile’ cancer drugs

Los Angeles Times California vaping bill would ban all flavored tobacco sales in stores

The New York Times A.I. comes to the operating room

CBS News U.S. collecting DNA samples from some migrants — including teens — in first stage of program

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Churches, faith leaders ramp up outreach around HIV/AIDS


TUESDAY | Jan. 7

Congress in session.


10 a.m. 2322 Rayburn. House Energy and Commerce hearing on “Legislation to Improve Americans’ Health Care Coverage and Outcomes.” Details.

10 a.m. 1225 I St. NW. Bipartisan Policy Center’s 20/20 Health Care Series: A Snapshot of Early Primary Voters. Details.