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Today in health care, there’s a new bipartisan bill to lower insulin costs, but it faces a tough path to passage.  

Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, we’re Peter SullivanNathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

Shaheen, Collins roll out bipartisan insulin bill’

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine)  unveiled legislation on Wednesday aimed at lowering the cost of insulin, seeking a bipartisan breakthrough on one of the highest-profile examples of high drug prices challenging patients.   

The legislation would cap patients’ out of pocket costs for insulin at $35 per month, and includes provisions seeking to incentivize drugmakers to lower the overall price of insulin.   

“For far too long, patients have stretched their budgets, rationed insulin and made difficult personal decisions to keep this drug within reach for themselves or those they love,” Shaheen and Collins said in a joint statement.   

Tough path forward: The measure faces a steep path to passage in the Senate, though. In addition to Collins, nine other Republicans would have to support the bill to clear a 60-vote threshold. Only 12 House Republicans voted for the House version of insulin legislation in March, with some calling the bill “price controls.”   

Vote coming soon: Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday he would put the legislation up for a vote “very soon,” and put pressure on Republicans to support it. 

“At least one in four insulin users report rationing their use because they can’t afford it, putting their health and lives at risk in the process,” Schumer said. “Senators Shaheen and Collins’ bipartisan legislation deserves the support of anyone who claims they want to lower costs for the American people.” 

Read more here.

Advocates cautiously optimistic on report of Juul ban

Anti-smoking advocates said they are cautiously optimistic following a report that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is preparing to remove Juul’s vaping products from shelves. 

The move from FDA, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, would bring an end to the two-year review of the company’s request to sell tobacco and menthol flavored e-cigarettes. 

  • Erika Sward, American Lung Association’s national assistant vice president of advocacy: If the report is true, “it’s most welcome and long overdue.”  
  • Matt Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids: “If these reports are accurate, this would be the most significant action the FDA has taken to date to end the youth e-cigarette epidemic.” 

An FDA spokeswoman said the agency had no information to share, and a decision has not been publicly announced. 

Backstory: In 2020, the FDA required all e-cigarette and vaping companies to submit applications to continue marketing products. The agency has been reviewing applications from manufacturers ever since. 

The agency also banned the sale of all vaping flavors aside from tobacco and nicotine and has not allowed any companies to legally sell flavors.  

Read more here.

31% SAY ABORTION BAN WOULD MAKE STATE LESS DESIRABLE TO LIVE IN

Nearly one-third of registered voters said in a new poll that their state would be less desirable to live in if it banned abortion. 

  • The USA Today-Suffolk poll found that 6 in 10 voters said a state abortion ban would not affect their thinking on its desirability, 31 percent said it would make the state less desirable and 5 percent said it would be more desirable. 
  • The proportion who said an abortion ban would make their state less desirable was higher for respondents aged 18 to 25 — clocking in at 42 percent — and those with a college degree. 

The poll comes as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a dispute over a Mississippi state law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. 

A draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito on the case leaked in May showing a majority of justices was poised to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that protected abortion rights federally. 

The Supreme Court is in the final weeks of its term with 13 decisions left, and the court is expected to release additional rulings on Thursday. 

Read more here.

CENSUS: 1 IN 5 WHO HAD COVID REPORT HAVING LONG COVID

New data collected by the U.S. government found that nearly one out of five adults who previously had COVID-19 now report having symptoms of long COVID. 

  • The information was sourced through the “Household Pulse Survey” conducted by the Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The NCHS began asking about the presence of long COVID at the start of June. 
  • Early research into the rate at which long COVID occurs has been varied, with some estimates indicating that a majority of people infected with COVID experience the perplexing condition while others found that only a small minority had the corresponding symptoms. 

Out of the more than 62,000 adults surveyed, 40 percent said they had had a previous COVID-19 infection. From this group, 19 percent said they were currently experiencing symptoms of long COVID. 

Overall, 14 percent of adults with prior infections said they had had post-COVID symptoms at some point. 

Of the general population, one out of 13 or 7.5 percent of U.S. adults reported having symptoms of long COVID that lasted three or more months after their initial infection. 

Read more here.

House panel condemns influence of Trump adviser

A report released by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis rebuked the influence that physician Scott Atlas had in the Trump administration during his time as a pandemic adviser and accused him of undermining the government’s efforts to fight COVID-19. 

  • During his time working with the Trump administration, Atlas frequently garnered controversy over his promotion of practices that seemingly contradicted pandemic mitigation methods recommended by other health officials in the federal government. 
  • The subcommittee’s report, titled “The Atlas Dogma,” listed numerous instances in which the Trump administration embraced what the panel referred to as “dangerous and discredited” approaches to handling the pandemic, including the herd immunity strategy which Atlas is a proponent of. 

Atlas was regularly accused of seeking to downplay the severity of the pandemic, with him characterizing the government’s early response to COVID-19 as an “overreaction.” He was a frequent critic of mask-wearing and social distancing and often mocked other health authorities and politicians who encouraged these practices. 

Atlas’s influence on the Trump administration appeared to start before he was brought on as an adviser, according to the report, with the panel saying his involvement was concealed for several weeks after he was hired. 

Read more here.

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • The unintended consequences of the $178 billion bailout to keep hospitals and doctors afloat (Washington Post
  • COVID vaccines are finally here for young kids. But the logistics aren’t easy (NPR
  • Years after Brigham-Harvard scandal, U.S. pours millions into tainted stem-cell field (Reuters
  • 100 million adults have health-care debt — and 12% of them owe $10,000 or more (CNBC)

STATE BY STATE

  • Tennessee House GOP press Gov. Lee to block state distribution of COVID vaccine for youngest kids (Tennessean
  • S.C. law lets health care providers refuse nonemergency care based on beliefs (NPR)  
  • State health department fires employee over abortion drug reference in newsletter (Ohio Capital Journal)

OP-EDS IN THE HILL

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow.

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