What We're Reading: Surprise Medical Bills Ban; Republicans Propose Drug Pricing Bill; Vaping-Related Illnesses Declining

December 9, 2019
AJMC Staff

A proposed ban on surprise medical bills has growing bipartisan support; Republicans are set to propose a drug pricing bill to compete with Democrats; vaping-related illnesses are on the decline.

Growing Support for Proposed Ban on Surprise Medical Bills

Leaders of key Senate and House committees reached a consensus on a proposal that would eliminate surprise medical billing, indicating a growing chance that the legislation will pass Congress. The New York Times reports that the proposed ban would prevent doctors from sending unexpected bills to patients when treated in a hospital that accepts their insurance and establishes a system for resolving related billing disputes between those doctors and insurance companies. The bipartisan deal, which includes the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, also addresses issues related to prescription drugs and funding for community health centers.

Republicans to Propose Competing Drug Pricing Bill

Today, Republican lawmakers are set to propose a drug pricing bill that would lower the cost of prescription medication, with aims to compete with the Democratic package from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that is expected to be voted on this week, according to STAT. The Republican bill includes a collection of bipartisan proposals collectively named the Lower Costs, More Cures Act. Republican aides stated that the House bill is an effort made in good faith to overcome partisan drug pricing issues and initiate a number of provisions that could go into effect before the end of 2019.

Vaping-Related Lung Illnesses Declining

According to the CDC, weekly hospitalizations for vaping-related lung illnesses have declined since mid-September, indicating that cases may have peaked. The Wall Street Journal reports that doctors, cannabis-industry analysts, and other experts attribute the decline to heightened awareness of the lung illnesses, which has shifted consumer habits to avoid products being sold illegally. Chief among the causes of the illnesses was the use of vaped THC. Many of these products, sold illegally, were found to be contaminated with vitamin E acetate that became toxic when heated and vaped.