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Overnight Health Care: Trump says drug importation plan is coming | Hints at softening vaping flavor ban | Groups sue over Medicaid work requirements in MI


Welcome to Friday’s Overnight Health Care. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWatergate prosecutor says that Sondland testimony was 'tipping point' for Trump In private moment with Trump, Justice Kennedy pushed for Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination: book Obama: 'Everybody needs to chill out' about differences between 2020 candidates MORE seemed open to pro-vaping arguments during a White House meeting, the CDC is recalling romaine lettuce again, health advocates are suing the Trump administration over Michigan’s work requirements, and Trump says a drug importation plan is coming "soon." 

We’ll start with drug pricing: 

Trump says drug importation plan coming 'soon'

President Trump had a bit of a tweetstorm on drug prices on Friday afternoon. 

The main takeaway: He’s trying to push forward on drug importation. 

“[Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar] and I will soon release a plan to let Florida and other States import prescription drugs that are MUCH CHEAPER than what we have now! Hard-working Americans don’t deserve to pay such high prices for the drugs they need. We are fighting DAILY to make sure this HAPPENS,” Trump tweeted.

Trump did not offer any details, and the Department of Health and Human Services declined to comment. A final rule that would allow states to import certain drugs from Canada has been under regulatory review at the White House Office of Management and Budget since Nov. 1.

Also don’t hold your breath for a Trump-Pelosi drug pricing deal

“Pelosi and her Do Nothing Democrats drug pricing bill doesn’t do the trick. FEWER cures! FEWER treatments!” Trump tweeted. “Time for the Democrats to get serious about bipartisan solutions to lowering prescription drug prices for families…”

Trump expressed support for drug pricing efforts by House Republicans, but there is currently no comprehensive House GOP plan. 

Instead, members support measures like the Creates Act, a smaller bipartisan bill aimed at lowering drug prices by cracking down on delay tactics that drug companies use to fend off competition from cheaper generic drugs.

Read more here

Trump hints at softening of vaping flavor ban

Public health advocates clashed with representatives of the tobacco and vaping industries, as well as conservative groups, during a “listening” session at the White House on Friday.

During the meeting, Trump seemed to listen to the arguments of the pro-vaping sector, and hinted he is walking back a long-delayed proposal to remove all flavored e-cigarettes from the market, amid concerns over job losses and the dangers of counterfeit products.

“If you don't give it to them, it is going to come here illegally,” Trump said, adding “they could be selling something on a street corner that could be horrible.”

Trump did express support for the industry-backed proposal of raising the age limit for tobacco purchases to 21.

“Twenty one, we are going to be doing,” Trump said.

The meeting was initially going to be closed to the press. But ever a fan of a spectacle, Trump invited reporters and cameras into the room, with members of the media able to witness first-hand Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTrump steps up GOP charm offensive as impeachment looms Romney calls lunch with Trump 'delightful' Trump lunches with two of his biggest Senate GOP critics MORE (R-Utah) making the claim that vaping companies sold a flavor called “unicorn poop” to appeal to children.

Takeaway: The meeting devolved into a shouting match, with both sides yelling statistics at each other. Everyone agreed that raising the age of purchasing tobacco was important, but beyond that, it’s tough to tell what the final outcome will be.  

More on the meeting here

Groups sue Trump administration over Medicaid work requirements in Michigan

Low-income individuals in Michigan, represented by a coalition of state and national health care advocates, filed a lawsuit on Friday against the Trump administration for approving Medicaid work requirements in Michigan.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in D.C., the same court that has already blocked work requirements in Kentucky, Arkansas and New Hampshire. The administration recently argued an appeal for Kentucky and Arkansas.

The lawsuit alleges work requirements will result in massive coverage losses and negatively impact the health and wellbeing of Michigan’s most vulnerable communities. 

“Without access to Medicaid coverage, people across Michigan will be forced to forgo treatment for their conditions or will incur significant medical debt when their conditions become so severe that they have no choice but to seek treatment in acute care and emergency department settings,” the complaint says.

Michigan is one of 10 states that have been granted approval for work requirements, and seven more are still waiting for a final decision from the administration. 

CDC warns of contaminated romaine lettuce

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday warned consumers not to eat – and retailers and restaurants should not sell or serve – any romaine lettuce harvested from the Salinas growing region of Northern California because it could be contaminated with a type of E. coli bacteria.

A total of 40 people have been infected from 16 states, but nobody has died, the CDC said.

The agency warned consumers to throw away all types of romaine lettuce harvested from Salinas, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine and packages of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix, Caesar salad and organic romaine.

According to the CDC, the strain is the same one that caused outbreaks linked to leafy greens and romaine lettuce in the last two years. Just two days before Thanksgiving last year, the CDC warned consumers to avoid eating romaine lettuce of any kind in response to an E. coli outbreak.

What we’re reading

The U.S. gave troubled doctors a second chance. Patients paid the price (Wall Street Journal)

As FDA toils over how to regulate CBD, frustration builds on all sides (Stat News

Ex-FDA chief: White House got ‘spooked by the politics and pushback’ on banning flavored vapes (CNBC)

State by state

In Missouri, people who can’t speak and see wait in line for help (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)  

‘I’m just defeated’: Vape retailers, consumers, experts urge Mass. officials to end sales ban (Boston.com)

This story contains a warning that might cause alarm — or apathy (Kaiser Health News)


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