Overnight Health Care: Appeals court strikes down Medicaid work requirements | Pelosi's staff huddles with aides on surprise billing | Senate Dems pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit

Overnight Health Care: Appeals court strikes down Medicaid work requirements | Pelosi's staff huddles with aides on surprise billing | Senate Dems pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit
© Aaron Schwartz

Welcome to Friday's Overnight Health Care.

The WHO is sending a team to China this weekend as the number of coronavirus cases climb, but it's unclear if anyone the U.S. will be taking part. Also, a federal appeals court struck down Medicaid work requirements, and Senate Democrats want the Trump administration to drop its ObamaCare lawsuit.

We'll start with Medicaid.



Appeals court strikes down Trump approval of Medicaid work requirements

Another setback for President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor NBA to contribute 1 million surgical masks to NY essential workers Private equity firm with ties to Kushner asks Trump administration to relax rules on loan program: report MORE's health care agenda in the courts...

A federal appeals court on Friday struck down the Trump administration's approval of Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed a lower court ruling that the approval of the work requirements was "arbitrary and capricious."

More than 18,000 people lost coverage in Arkansas due to the work requirements before they were halted by a lower court. 

The court found that the Trump administration disregarded the statutory purpose of Medicaid -- to provide health coverage -- and did not adequately account for the coverage losses that would result from the work requirements. 


"Failure to consider whether the project will result in coverage loss is arbitrary and capricious," Judge David Sentelle, an appointee of President Reagan, wrote in the opinion

Read more here.


Wednesday, February 26: America's Opioid Epidemic: Lessons Learned & A Way Forward 

Join The Hill on Wednesday, February 26th in downtown Washington, D.C. as we host a conversation about expanding access to treatment and helping those battling opioid addiction begin the journey toward long-term recovery. We will be speaking with Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Rep. David JoyceDavid Patrick JoyceBoeing suspends Washington production, GE Aviation lays off thousands Mnuchin details IRS challenges with cash-only marijuana businesses Democrat: Lawmakers need to approach opioid crisis as 'a chronic situation' MORE (R-Ohio) and Rep. Paul TonkoPaul David TonkoBottom Line Trump administration expected to roll back Obama-era mileage standards As we face coronavirus battle, we must ensure critical supplies of respirators for health care workers MORE (D-N.Y.). RSVP today!


Pelosi's staff huddles with aides in both parties on 'surprise' medical billing

House aides in both parties met with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor Pelosi, Democrats using coronavirus to push for big tax cuts for blue state residents US watchdog vows 'aggressive' oversight after intel official fired MORE's (D-Calif.) staff on Friday to try to bridge the gap between rival bills to protect patients from getting massive, "surprise" medical bills.

But there was no breakthrough in the meeting, sources said.

The gathering included Democratic and Republican staff members from the three House committees dealing with the issue: Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Education and Labor. Aides to Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyPelosi scales back coronavirus infrastructure proposal Democrats press Trump, GOP for funding for mail-in ballots Top GOP lawmakers push back on need for special oversight committee for coronavirus aid MORE (R-Calif.) participated in the meeting.

Protecting patients from receiving medical bills for thousands of dollars after receiving care at a hospital from an out-of-network doctor is seen as a rare area of possible bipartisan agreement this election year.

But the effort has been slowed by a rift between the leaders of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Ways and Means Committee. The two panels have put forward rival bipartisan measures on the issue. 

Read more here



Senate Democrats pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit

Vulnerable Senate Democrats joined dozens of their colleagues Friday in calling on President Trump to stop helping a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act that could wipe out protections for pre-existing medical conditions.

Forty-four Democrats led by Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPoliticians mourn the death of Bill Withers Pressure mounts for national parks closure amid coronavirus White House, Senate reach deal on trillion stimulus package MORE (D-W.Va.) -- who has come under attack from Trump for his impeachment vote -- Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenWho should be the Democratic vice presidential candidate? McConnell sets Friday night deadline for bipartisan deal on stimulus American citizen released from Lebanese prison, returning to US MORE (D-N.H.) -- who's up for reelection in a swing state -- and Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinBiden's pick for vice president doesn't matter much Democratic senators call on FDA to drop restrictions on blood donations from men who have sex with men Juan Williams: Biden's promises on women are a big deal MORE (D-Wis.) wrote to Trump asking him to rein in his Department of Justice (DOJ), which supports a lawsuit in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to repeal ObamaCare.

No Republicans signed the letter.

"You could bring peace of mind to millions of Americans tomorrow by simply directing the DOJ to do its job and defend the law of the land instead of arguing against protections for people with pre-existing conditions and against access to affordable health care coverage," the lawmakers wrote.

Read more on the letter here.



In today's coronavirus news...


WHO team headed to China as coronavirus cases climb

A 12-person team of international health experts, led by the World Health Organization, will land in China as soon as this weekend, the organization's head told reporters on Friday.

But it's not clear if Americans will be among them.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the team will stay as long as they are needed, depending on the scope of work. When asked for details on the team's composition, he said the members of the mission are experts in their fields but did not elaborate.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Friday said U.S. experts are ready and willing to help, but they still don't have final permission from the Chinese to enter the country. 


"The World Health Organization, we believe, has secured agreement to deploy a WHO team with our U.S. public health experts as part of that team. We are ready to go. And we are waiting for final clearance from the Chinese government to make that happen," Azar said during an interview on CNN's New Day.

Read more here.


Lawmakers call on US officials to evacuate Americans from quarantined cruise ship

A group of GOP lawmakers is calling on the Trump administration to evacuate more than 400 U.S. citizens from a cruise ship quarantined due to an outbreak of coronavirus. 

The letter from nine House lawmakers to the administration calls for the 428 U.S. citizens on the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined off of Japan to be tested and evacuated to finish their quarantine in the United States. 

"From firsthand accounts, we are concerned about the existing level of care available on the ship, particularly to the 428 U.S. citizens aboard, as well as the national security concerns posed by reported quarantine conditions," the lawmakers, led by Rep. Phil RoeDavid (Phil) Phillip RoeAs VA's budget continues to Increase, greater oversight is required US to evacuate Americans from cruise ship in Japan Overnight Health Care: Appeals court strikes down Medicaid work requirements | Pelosi's staff huddles with aides on surprise billing | Senate Dems pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit MORE (R-Tenn.), write. "While we understand this is a fluid situation because of the fast-moving nature of the outbreak, we are writing to strongly encourage you to test asymptomatic U.S. citizens as soon as possible and evacuate and quarantine those who test negative for the coronavirus in a U.S.-based facility."

Read more here.


21 states reject $18 billion opioid settlement offer from drug wholesalers

More than 20 state attorneys general on Friday penned a letter rejecting an $18 billion settlement offer from three major drug wholesalers meant to end litigation against their role in the opioid crisis, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The letter includes Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia as well as Ohio, West Virginia and Florida. The states are seeking between $22 billion and $32 billion, according to the Journal. 

The distributors -- McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen Corp. and Cardinal Health Inc. -- had reportedly been discussing the settlement since October and had offered to pay $18 billion over 18 years.

Read more here.


What we're reading

Are e-cigarette companies helping smokers quit? Survey suggests Americans don't buy it (Stat News)

Facts vs. fears: Five things to help weigh your coronavirus risk (Kaiser Health News)


State by state

Nevada culinary union officials face profanity-laced attacks after scorecard says Sanders would 'end' their health care (Nevada Independent)

Report: Opioids lead to increase in accidental drug deaths in Connecticut for 2019 (WTNH