HealthCare Roundtable e-News – September 22, 2020

Registration to open Monday, October 5th

SALGBA to once again offer State Administrators’ Roundtable in conjunction with the conference.

Watch your email for registration instructions for the Roundtable’s 2020 Virtual Annual Conference. This year’s theme – Working Together… In a Disconnected Time – sums up our goal for this year’s gathering. Although we won’t be in the same room, we’re planning an agenda that will prepare all of us for what promises to be a very active period in Federal health care programs, policymaking, and engagement.

As we have in the past, we are partnering with SALGBA to facilitate a State Administrators’ Roundtable as part of this year’s conference. SALBA is currently working with their members to finalize the details of what we expect will be two segments – one in the morning and one in the afternoon – on Wednesday, November 11th. 

Should you have any questions prior to our Registration announcement, please don’t hesitate to contact me at

Trump Issues Executive Orders on Health Care, Looks to Close Polling Gaps with Biden in Battleground States

Heading into the final weeks of the presidential election, President Trump issued two executive orders outlining how he plans to tackle rising health care costs once re-elected. The first of the two aims to tackle surprise billing and require insurers to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions, should the Affordable Care Act be overturned in a decision by the Supreme Court, while the second rule will look to allow states to import prescription drugs. (InsideHealthPolicy)

While in North Carolina, Trump said Republicans are now “the party of health care,” and stated that he would send seniors on Medicare a $200 coupon to use for their prescription drugs, potentially costing $6.6 billion. A White House spokesperson declined to comment on the timeline or other details of when or how seniors would receive the coupons, but suggested the spending would be offset by the president’s “most-favored nation” plan.

Biden has held a steady lead over Trump in battleground states with a majority of likely voters favoring Biden, according to new polling data from the Commonwealth Fund. A recent poll from Politico and Harvard also found that 55% of voters disapprove of the federal government’s handling of the pandemic; however, the numbers amongst Trump’s fan base differ heavily, as 91% of Trump voters approve of his handling of health care in his first term. (InsideHealthPolicy)

Democrats are calling the executive orders a political move and legal experts suggest that the likelihood the orders will go into effect before the election is low. Both Trump and Biden are expected to focus on health care issues in tonight’s debate.

Barrett Likely to Play a Role in Striking Down Obamacare

On Saturday (Sept. 26), President Trump announced his nomination to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for the Supreme Court. Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative federal judge in the Seventh Circuit, was praised by Trump in the White House Rose Garden as a woman of “towering intellect” and “unyielding loyalty to the Constitution” who would rule “based solely on the fair reading of the law.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for president, commented that Barrett’s nomination makes the 2020 election more urgent. Barrett has critiqued the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act and is expected to play a role in overturning the policy when the Court hears the California v. Texas court case in November, should the Senate confirm her. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has also voiced his opposition with Barrett’s nomination.

“Should Judge Amy Coney Barrett be confirmed, a far-right majority on the court could also turn back the clock on women’s rights and a woman’s right to choose, workers’ rights, voting rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, environmental protections and more. The future for DACA recipients also hangs in the balance with this nominee,” said Schumer.

Barrett has voiced her support for overturning Roe v. Wade, joining a dissent at the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals suggesting that states may be able to outlaw abortion for reasons of race, sex or disability selection. Barrett had ruled against abortion rights in multiple cases and was a member of the University of Notre Dame’s Faculty for Life group before being appointed a federal judge, having signed a letter affirming the “value of human life from conception to natural death.” (InsideHealthPolicy)

Barrett is preparing to meet with the Senate, who will look to begin confirmation court hearings on October 12th, only weeks before the presidential election.

House E&C Subcommittee Holds Hearing on ACA, Pre-Existing Conditions and Post-Pandemic Health Policies

Members of the House Energy & Commerce health subcommittee met last week to review medical policies to be implemented post-pandemic, as well as the Affordable Care Act and potential short-term health plans.

BThroughout the hearing, committee members on both sides agreed on the importance of telehealth and discussed how to support it after the COVID-19 pandemic. More stickier was the discussion around the lawsuit against the ACA, renamed California vs. Texas, which will be heard by the Supreme Court after the presidential election in November. If struck down, a significant number of ACA provisions could be eliminated, including protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

House GOP subcommittee members have asserted that they support protecting pre-existing conditions in short-term health plans, should the ACA be struck down by SCOTUS, but Democrats have argued that legislation protecting pre-existing conditions would need other mechanisms to support those provisions. (InsideHealthPolicy)

Panelists, including Harvard professor Benjamin Sommers and Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee, spoke on the necessity of subsidies for such policies, citing cases where states had tried and failed to implement similar policies before ACA without the right supporting mechanisms. Lee also spoke on the importance of the ACA’s marketing budget, commenting on how California’s exchange spent $9 million on its COVID-19 special enrollment period, during which nearly 290,000 residents enrolled in coverage. “People need to be encouraged and nudged and informed about how to take care of themselves,” commented Lee in the Los Angeles Times, noting that this strategy helps protect people but also brings in younger, healthier customers who, in turn, help keep premiums in check. (InsideHealthPolicy)

Pharma Execs Expected to Testify This Week at House Oversight Hearing

The House Oversight Committee is scheduled to host a hearing this Wednesday (Sept. 30) to hear from Former Celgene Corporation CEO Mark Alles, Bristol Myers Squibb CEO Giovanni Caforio and Teva Pharmaceuticals CEO Kåre Schultz on the executives’ drug pricing practices. The hearing follows an 18-month probe into price increases, executive compensation and patent strategies for some of the “costliest drugs in the United States.”

House committee members are expected to ask questions related to the drug Revlimid, which Celgene had sold to BMS last year and had generated $6.5 billion in U.S. sales in 2018. BMS announced that it closed a deal with Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, allowing the company to start with a “volume-limited” launch in 2022.

Committee members are also expected to review Teva’s multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone, Novartis’ cancer drug Gleevec, Mallinckrodt’s inflammatory disease drug H.P. Acthar Gel, and Amgen’s anti-inflammatory drug Enbrel and kidney medicine Sensipar. (InsideHealthPolicy)

“These companies sell medications that are critical to our health and well-being, but their skyrocketing prices are simply unsustainable,” Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) stated in a press announcement. “For nearly two years, our Committee has aggressively investigated why drug companies continuously increase prices, how they use their massive profits, and what steps can be taken to make prescriptions more affordable for the American people. I look forward to hearing from these CEOs next week as we work to make drug prices more affordable for the American people.”