Democrats See Opportunity in GOP Threats to Repeal Health Law 

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With other GOP presidential candidates following Donald Trump’s lead in calling for an end to the Affordable Care Act, Democrats are jumping on an issue they think will favor them in the 2024 elections. The Biden administration almost immediately rolled out a controversial proposal that could dramatically decrease the price of drugs developed with federally funded research dollars. The drug industry and the business community at large are vehemently opposed to the proposal, but it is likely to be popular with voters.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court hears arguments in a case to decide whether the Sackler family should be able to shield billions of dollars taken from its bankrupt drug company, Purdue Pharma, from further lawsuits regarding the company’s highly addictive drug OxyContin.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KFF Health News, Anna Edney of Bloomberg News, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, and Rachana Pradhan of KFF Health News.

Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • The ACA may end up back on the proverbial chopping block if Trump is reelected. But as many in both parties know, it is unlikely to be a winning political strategy for Republicans. ACA enrollment numbers are high, as is the law’s popularity, and years after a failed effort during Trump’s presidency, Republicans still have not unified around a proposal to replace it.
  • Democrats are eager to capitalize on the revival of “repeal and replace.” This week, the Biden administration announced plans to exercise so-called “march-in rights,” which it argues allow the government to seize certain patent-protected drugs whose prices have gotten too high and open them to price competition. The plan, once largely embraced by progressives, could give President Joe Biden another opportunity to claim his administration has proven more effective than Trump’s heading into the 2024 election.
  • The Senate voted to approve more than 400 military promotions this week, effectively ending the 10-month blockade by Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama over a Pentagon policy that helps service members travel to obtain abortions. At the state level, the Texas courts are considering cases over its exceptions to the state’s abortion ban, while in Ohio, a woman who miscarried after being sent home from the hospital is facing criminal charges.
  • Meanwhile, the Supreme Court soon could rule on whether EMTALA, or the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, requires doctors to perform abortions in emergencies. And justices are also considering whether to allow a settlement deal to move forward that does not hold the Sacker family accountable for the harm caused by opioids.
  • “This Week in Medical Misinformation” highlights a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton accusing Pfizer of failing to end the covid-19 pandemic with its vaccine.

Also this week, Rovner interviews Dan Weissmann, host of KFF Health News’ sister podcast, “An Arm and a Leg,” about his investigation into hospitals suing their patients for unpaid medical bills.

Plus, for “extra credit,” the panelists suggest health policy stories they read this week that they think you should read, too:

Julie Rovner: The Wisconsin State Journal’s “Dane, Milwaukee Counties Stop Making Unwed Fathers Pay for Medicaid Birth Costs,” by David Wahlberg.  

Anna Edney: Bloomberg News’ “Tallying the Best Stats on US Gun Violence Is Trauma of Its Own,” by Madison Muller.  

Alice Miranda Ollstein: Stat’s “New Abortion Restrictions Pose a Serious Threat to Fetal Surgery,” by Francois I. Luks, Tippi Mackenzie, and Thomas F. Tracy Jr. 

Rachana Pradhan: KFF Health News’ “Patients Expected Profemur Artificial Hips to Last. Then They Snapped in Half,” by Brett Kelman and Anna Werner, CBS News.

Also mentioned in this week’s episode:

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