August 17, 2022

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Welcome to Thursday’s Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and...

Welcome to Thursday’s Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. Subscribe here: 
A new resolution from (most of) New England’s senators honors Tom Brady, even noting that he only “briefly” played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  
President BidenJoe BidenBillie Eilish meets with Biden at the White House Marjorie Taylor Greene roasted for ‘gazpacho police’ remark Biden talks energy and security with Saudi King Salman MORE was in a competitive district in Virginia calling for action to lower drug prices.  
For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan ([email protected]) and Nathaniel Weixel ([email protected]). Write to us with tips and feedback, and follow us on Twitter: @PeterSullivan4 and @NateWeixel 
Let’s get started. 

Biden calls on Senate to lower drug prices
President Biden on Thursday called on the Senate to pass his stalled Build Back Better legislation, saying it would lower prescription drug prices, a popular issue ahead of the midterm elections. 
Biden traveled to the Virginia district of vulnerable Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, where he said that drug prices are “outrageously expensive” and called for action. 
“In my Build Back Better legislation that with Abigail’s leadership passed the House of Representatives, we can do that,” he said. “Now we just have to get it through the United States Senate, and we’re close.” 
Is it still called Build Back Better? The Build Back Better package is currently stuck in the Senate, given objections from Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSanders calls on Democrats to bring up drug pricing bill in Senate Climate will define Biden’s legacy Biden meets with utility executives in push for spending agenda MORE (D-W.Va.). There has been some talk of starting fresh on a revised proposal that could have a different name, but Biden still used the “Build Back Better” branding on Thursday. 
Biden did not mention Manchin, but said, “We’ve just got to get Abigail’s enthusiasm that got it through in the House of Representatives to the United States Senate.” 
Manchin is concerned about inflation, and Biden’s remarks came the same day new data showed consumer prices rose at 7.5 percent annually, the fastest rate since 1982. 
Biden sought to address inflation concerns by arguing his package would “bring down the cost for average families,” and also noted it “will not increase the debt,” another concern of Manchin’s. 
Read more here. 

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Dems push Biden over global vaccinations  
Congressional Democrats are increasing pressure on the Biden administration to step up its efforts to vaccinate the world, arguing more needs to be done to prevent a new COVID-19 variant from emerging to threaten the United States after omicron.    
A group of more than 80 Democratic lawmakers is pushing for $17 billion to support global vaccinations in a coming government funding package, but there is no certainty yet on what will be provided.    
The Biden administration has touted its pledge of 1.2 billion doses for other countries, of which 400 million have been delivered so far, as more than any other country in the world has provided.   
But some Democratic lawmakers say simply donating doses is not enough, given that many poor countries still have extremely low vaccination rates.     
“The truth is we just have to do more,” Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalHow to end corporate capture of the regulatory process Jayapal says GOP lawmaker’s behavior toward CBC chair was assault IRS to drop facial recognition verification service MORE (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said, adding she had talked “extensively” with the administration about her push.    
More funds could be coming: Roughly $10 billion in funding for global COVID-19 needs has been under discussion, sources told The Hill, but there’s no clarity yet.     
Rep. Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiThe Memo: China’s Olympics get underway beneath shadow of abuses Malinowski is latest lawmaker to test COVID-19 positive after Ukraine trip Overnight Energy & Environment — Biden tries to reverse Trump on power plants MORE (D-N.J.) said his understanding is that now that there has been progress on the top-line numbers for a government funding deal, the White House will be putting forward a request with a “generous” number for global COVID-19 needs. 
Read more here.  

Abortions in Texas dropped nearly 60 percent in the first month the most restrictive abortion law in the nation was in effect, according to state data. 
The number of abortions performed in the state fell from 5,404 in August to just 2,197 in September. The Texas heartbeat law, S.B. 8, bans all abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected, typically around six weeks of pregnancy, before most women know they are pregnant.  
The figures from the Texas Health Department, which were released earlier this month, show the dramatic impact of the law just one month after it took effect. Data has not been released for the rest of 2021 beyond September. 
The law authorizes citizens to file private lawsuits against those who perform, aid or abet an abortion after six weeks. Successful suits under S.B. 8, which contains no exceptions for rape or incest, fetch at least $10,000. 
So far, no lawsuits have been filed, but several clinics ceased providing abortions.  
The ban conflicts with Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that recognized a constitutional right to abortion before a fetus is viable, typically around 24 weeks of pregnancy. But the law was deliberately written to circumvent the ruling. So despite challenges, the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to block the law. 
The high court remanded the case to the conservative 5th Circuit, which then sent the lawsuit to the Texas Supreme Court, which is controlled entirely by Republicans. 
Read more here.  

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday released draft updated guidelines for prescribing opioids that would give doctors more flexibility as the medical community seeks to find a balance between treating pain and fighting addiction. 
Guidelines issued in 2016 included specific recommendations, including often limiting opioid prescriptions for acute pain to three days and not exceeding a dose of the equivalent of 90 milligrams of morphine per day.   
The new proposed guidelines shy away from specific numbers and instead more broadly urge doctors to exercise caution when prescribing opioids.   
“Clinicians should prescribe the lowest dosage to achieve expected effects” when patients begin taking opioids, the guidelines state.   
If possible, they recommend that “nonopioid therapies are preferred for subacute and chronic pain.”  
“We’ve built in flexibility so that there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach,” Christopher Jones, acting director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, told USA Today. 
Read more here.  

Officials buy 600k doses of new antibody drug  
The Biden administration on Thursday said it purchased 600,000 treatments worth of a new COVID-19 antibody drug that officials said works against the omicron variant. 
The drug from Eli Lilly has not yet been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration. But the Department of Health and Human Services said if the authorization occurs, the treatment will be made available to states immediately, free of charge. 
Under the $720 million contract, HHS said it would receive approximately 300,000 treatment courses of the monoclonal antibody in February and about another 300,000 treatment courses in March. They would be ready to ship immediately following authorization. 
Context: The announcement comes after the FDA last month significantly restricted the use of a pair of monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 because they are ineffective against the omicron variant. 
According to HHS, early data suggests that the new antibody drug is effective against both omicron and the BA.2 omicron subvariant. 
Read more here.

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Skirmish between Biden and red states over Medicaid leaves enrollees in the balance (Kaiser Health News) 
Disabled and immunocompromised people fear lifting mask mandates will leave them behind (NBC News) 
A vaccine for the youngest children brings hope, confusion, concern (Boston Globe) 
Prince Charles tests positive for Covid for second time (CNN)



Montana mice may hold the secret to how viruses spread (High Country News) 
LA County on track to relax some outdoor mask rules (LA Times)  
Changes to Virginia’s marijuana law not likely to hit GOP-controlled House floor (Virginian Pilot) 


The hidden link between COVID and Legionnaires’ disease: poverty 
America’s opioid crisis is as real as ever — we need policy on safe, effective treatments 

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s health care page for the latest news and coverage. See you Friday.

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