The Friday Breeze
Newsletter editor Brianna Labuskes, who reads everything on health care to compile our daily Morning Briefing, offers the best and most provocative stories for the weekend.
Between Justice Anthony Kennedy’s pending retirement, crisis pregnancy centers and the unions’ fees decision, the Supreme Court has been the epicenter of health news this week. So, here’s my reading list to keep you supremely informed:
Following Kennedy’s announcement, all eyes snapped to Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, two Republican senators who have a history of supporting abortion rights. With President Donald Trump likely to nominate a judge who will want to overturn Roe v. Wade, the women may be in charge of history.
The Washington Post: ‘Everyone Is Focused on Lisa and Susan': The Two Most Powerful Senators in the Fight to Replace Kennedy
There’s been a plethora of coverage on every aspect of this, but these stories clearly lay out the politics: Democrats lack a way to derail any nomination, but they’re not waving a white flag of surrender; if the abortion decision gets tossed back to the states, many already have all the groundwork set up to restrict the procedure; and, it turns out, the majority of Americans don’t want Roe overturned.
The New York Times: Denied a Filibuster, Democrats Eye Other Tactics in Supreme Court Fight
Los Angeles Times: If a Reshaped Supreme Court Tosses Abortion Decisions Back to States, Several Would Move Fast to Outlaw the Procedures
Kaiser Health News: As Trump Eyes Next Supreme Court Pick, Poll Finds Most Americans Oppose Overturning Roe v. Wade
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Retirement news isn’t the only thing coming out of the Supreme Court this week: SCOTUS also ruled that California “crisis pregnancy centers” do not have to inform their patients of abortion options provided by the state.
Reuters: Supreme Court Blocks California Law on Anti-Abortion Centers
But, wait! There’s more still: The court issued a decision coming down against mandatory union fees. And yes, there’s a health care angle.
Why it matters: Unions (many of which are made up of health care workers) are not only huge contributors to Democratic campaigns, but also are often vocal supporters of health care programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare.
Modern Healthcare: Supreme Court Ruling on Union Fees Could Shift Healthcare Politics
And one more tidbit: The high court agreed to review a case about product warnings related to an osteoporosis drug. This one is going to be closely watched, because it could have deep ramifications for the pharmaceutical industry regarding liability.
Stat: Supreme Court to Review Merck Case With Implications for Consumers
Moving across the street to the Capitol building: Robert Wilkie, the nominee for VA secretary, had his Senate confirmation hearing this week. He sailed through, as was expected, with a promise to stand against complete privatization of veterans’ health care.
The Hill: VA Nominee Pledges to Oppose Privatization
Want to know more about him? Check out this piece on his long history of being on the front lines of his (politically polarizing) bosses’ culture wars.
The Washington Post: Robert Wilkie, Trump’s VA Nominee, Built a Career Working With Polarizing Figures in American Politics
Remember all those doom-and-gloom predictions about spiraling marketplaces? Well, insurers don’t seem to have gotten that particular memo.
The Hill: Defying Predictions, ObamaCare Insurers See Boom Times Ahead
And, what happens when you can’t afford to get sick, even when you have insurance?
Bloomberg: Sky-High Deductibles Broke the U.S. Health Insurance System
Despite everyone’s intense focus on lowering drug costs, the administration drew a line in the sand over Massachusetts’ proposed (and controversial) plan to negotiate on prices.
Stat: Mass. Gets a Thumbs-Down on Negotiating Medicaid Prices, but Oklahoma Wins on ‘Value’ Rebates
And if all of that just isn’t enough news for you, my miscellaneous file is packed with good reading: Companies stand to get a windfall from that massive opioid package Congress passed; smart technology in homes is making lives more convenient, but it’s also making it easier for abusers to control their victims; an analysis shines a stark light on neglect at VA nursing homes; and the once-dreaded polio virus is showing success in treating a lethal type of brain tumor (the kind Sen. John McCain has).
Politico: Opioid Bills Could Net Millions for Companies
The New York Times: Thermostats, Locks and Lights: Digital Tools of Domestic Abuse
USA Today: More Than 100 VA Nursing Homes Worse Than Private Sector in Quality
The Associated Press: Enemy Turned Ally: Poliovirus Is Used to Fight Brain Tumors
As you head into the weekend, you can contemplate — as I did — how anyone can actually afford to live past 105, even if it’s biologically possible.